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S IXPEVCE 



Wdm 



TRAITOR IN LONDON 



FERGUS HUME 



■ II II 1 1 II 1 1 




DR. J. GOLDS BROWNE'S 



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A Traitor in London 



By 

Fergus Hume 



Author of 

'The Mystery of a Hansom Cab,' 'The Silent House in Pimlico,' 

4 The Bishop's Secret,' « The Crimson Cryptogram,' ' The Golden Wang-ho,' 

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13 and 14 Norris Street, Haymarket 



[All rights reserved} 



ESTABLISHED 1851. 



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A Traitor in London 



CHAPTER I 

CUPID IN LEADING STRINGS 

' It's an infernal shame ! ' 

' I call it common sense ! ' 

'Call it what you please, Malet. I 
deny ;. our right to keep back my money.' 

'Right? Your father's will gives me 
every right. If I approve of your marriage, 
the money will be paid down on your 
wedding day.' 

'But you don't approve, confound you !' 

' Certainly not. Brenda Scarse is not 
the wife for you, Harold.' 

' That's my business.' 

' Mine also — under the will. Come, 
come now ; don't lose your temper.' 

The elder speakersmiled as he proffered 
this advice, knowing well that he was 
provoking his cousin beyond all bounds. 
Harold Burton was young, fiery-tempered, 
and in love. To be thwarted in his love 
was something more than exasperating to 
this impetuous lover. The irritating re- 
quest that he should keep his temper 
caused him to lose it promptly ; and for 
the next five minutes Mr Gilbert Malet 
was witness of a fine exhibition of unre- 
strained rage. He trembled for the 
furniture, almost for his own personal 
safety, though he managed to preserve a 
duly dignified outward calm. While 
Harold stamped about the room, his 
burly cousin posed before a tireless grate 
and trimmed his nails, and waited until 
the young man should have exhausted this 
wholly unnecessary display of violence. 

They were in the library of Holt 
Manor. It was a sombre, monkish 
room ; almost ascetic in its severity. 
Bookcases and furniture were of black 



oak, carpet and curtains of a deep red 
colour ; and windows of stained glass 
subdued the light suitably for study and 
meditation. But on this occasion the 
windows were open to the brilliant day- 
light of an August afternoon, and shafts 
of golden sunshine poured into the room. 
From the terrace stretching before the 
house, vast woods sloped toward Chip- 
pingholt village, where red-roofed houses 
clustered round a brawling stream, and 
rose again on the further side to sweep 
to the distant hills in unbroken masses of 
green. Manor and village took their 
Teutonic names from these forests, and 
buried in greenery, might have passed as 
the domain of the Sleeping Beauty. Her 
palace was undoubtedly girdled by just 
such a wood. 

But this sylvan beauty did not appeal 
to the pair in the library. The stout, 
domineering owner of the Manor who 
trimmed his nails and smiled blandly had 
the stronger position of the two, and he 
knew it well — so well that he could afford 
to ignore the virile wrath of his ward. 
Strictly speaking, Captain Burton was not 
a ward, if that word implies minority. 
He was thirty years of age, in a lancer 
regiment, and possessed of an income 
sufficient to emancipate him from the 
control of his cousin Gilbert. Still, 
though possible for one, his income was 
certainly not possible for two, and if 
Gilbert chose he could increase his capital 
by twenty thousand pounds. But the 
stumbling-block was the condition at- 
tached to the disposal of the money. Only 
if Malet approved of the prospective 
bride was he to part with the legacy. As 
such he did not approve of Brenda Scarse» 
so matters were at a standstill Nor 



A Traitor in London 



could Harold well see how he was to 
move them. Finding all his rage of no 
avail, he gradually subsided and had 
recourse to methods more pacific. 

'Let me understand this matter clearly/ 
he said, taking a seat with a resolute air. 
' Independent of my three hundred a 
year, you hold twenty thousand pounds 
of my money.' 

'To be correct,' replied Malet in a 
genial tone, ' I hold forty thousand pounds, 
to be equally shared between you and 
your brother Wilfred when you marry. 
The three hundred a year which you each 
possess I have nothing to do with.' 
' Well, I want to marry, and — ' 
' You do — against my wishes. If I do 
not approve of your choice I need not pay 
you this money. I can hold it until I die.' 
' And then ? ' asked Harold, sharply. 
Gilbert shrugged his burly shoulders. 
' Then it goes to you and Wilfred direct. 
There is no provision made for my hand- 
ing it over to another trustee. You are 
bound to get your share in the long run ; 
but I am not thinking of dying just yet, 
my dear Harold.' 

'I can't imagine what possessed my 
father ever to make so foolish a will.' 

1 Your father was guided by experience, 
my boy. He made a miserable marriage 
himself, and did not want you or Wilfred 
to go and do likewise. He had evidently 
confidence in my judgment, and knew 
that I would stand between you and folly.' 
' Confound your impudence,' shouted 
Harold, his dark face crimson with anger. 
'You're only fifteen years older than I 
am. At the age of thirty I am surely 
capable of selecting my own wife ! ' 

' I hardly think so, when you select 
Miss Scarse ! ' 

' What the deuce have you against her ? ' 
'Nothing, personally. She is a nice 
girl, a very nice girl, but poor. A man of 
your extravagant tastes should marry 
money. Brenda is well enough, for her- 
self,' continued Malet, with odious famil- 
iarity, for which Harold could have struck 
him, ' but her father ! — Stuart Scarse is a 
Little Englander ! ' 

Captain Burton was taken aback at the 
irrelevancy of this remark. 'What the 
devil has that to do with her or me ? ' he 
demanded bluntly. 

' Everything, if you love your country. 



You belong to a Conservative family. 
You are a soldier, and the time is coming 
when we must all rally round the flag and 
preserve the Empire. Scarse is a member 
of that pernicious band which desires the 
dismemberment of our glorious — ' 

' Oh, I'm sick of this ! ' Harold jumped 
up and crammed on his cap. ' Your 
political ideas have nothing to do with 
my marriage. You have no reason to 
object to Miss Scarse. Once for all, will 
you pay me this money ? ' 

' No, I will not. I shall not agree to 
your marrying the daughter of a Little 
Englander.' 

'Then I shall throw the estate into 
Chancery.' 

Malet looked uneasy, but sneered. 
'By all means, if you want the whole 
forty thousand to go to fee the lawyers ! 
But, before you risk losing your money, 
let me advise you to make sure of Miss 
Brenda Scarse ! ' 

' What do you mean ? ' 
' Ask Mr van Zwieten, who is staying 
with her father.' 

' Oh ! ' said Harold, contemptuously, 
' Brenda has told me all about him. Her 
father wants her to marry him, and it is 
true he is in love with her ; but Brenda 
loves me, and will never consent to be- 
come the wife of that Boer ! ' 

' Van Zwieten is no Boer. He is a 
Dutchman, born in Amsterdam.' 

' And a friend of yours,' sneered Cap- 
tain Burton. 

' He is no friend of mine ! ' shouted 
Malet, somewhat ruffled. 'I dete t the 
man as much as I do Scarse. If — ' 

' Look here, Gilbert, I don't want any 
more of this. I trust Brenda, and I 
intend to marry her.' 

' Very good. Then you'll have to starve 
on your three hundred a year.' 

' You refuse to give me the money ? ' 
' Absolutely.' 

' Then I'm glad I don't live under your 
roof and can tell you what I think of you. 
You are a mean hound, Malet — keep back, 
or I'll knock you down. Yes, a mean 
hound ! This is not your real reason for 
refusing to pay me this money. I'll go 
up to town to-day and have your trustee- 
ship inquired into.' 

Gilbert changed colour and looked 
dangerous. ' You can act as you please, 



Cupid in Leading Strings 



5 



Harold ; but recollect that my powers are 
very clearly defined under the will. I am 
not accountable to you or to Wilfred or 
to anyone else for the money. I have no 
need to defend my honour.' 

'That we shall see.' Harold opened 
the door and looked back. ' This is the 
last time I shall enter your house. You 
meddle with my private affairs, you 
keep back money rightfully belonging to 
me on the most frivolous pretext, and, in 
fact, make yourself objectionable in every 
way ; but, I warn you, the law will force 
you to alter your behaviour.' 

' The law cannot touch me ! ' cried 
Gilbert, furiously. ' I can account for the 
money and pay it when it should be paid. 
Out of my house — ! ' 

' I am going — and, see here, Gilbert 
Malet, if the law affords me no redress, I 
shall take it into my own hands. Yes, 
you may well turn pale. I'll make it hot 
for you — you swindler ! ' and Captain Bur- 
ton, banging the door, marched out of 
the house, furious at his helpless posi- 
tion. 

Left alone, Malet wiped his bald fore- 
head and sank into a chair. ' Pooh ! ' he 
muttered, striving to reassure himself. 
' He can do nothing. I am his cousin. 
My honour is his honour. I'm in pretty 
deep water, but I'll get ashore yet. There's 
only one way — only one ! ' Then Mr 
Malet proceeded to cogitate upon that 
one and only way, and the obstacles which 
prevented his taking it. His thoughts for 
the next half hour did not make for peace 
of mind altogether. 

Meanwhile, Captain Burton, fuming 
with rage, strode on through the green 
woods to the lady of his love. They had 
arranged to meet and discuss the result 
of this interview. As Mr Scarse did not 
approve of his attentions towards his 
daughter, the cottage where she dwelt 
was forbidden ground to Harold. He 
was compelled, therefore, to meet her by 
stealth in the woods. But the glorious 
summer day made that no hardship. He 
knew the precise spot where Brenda 
would be waiting for him — under an 
ancient oak, which had seen many gener- 
ations of lovers — and he increased his 
pace that he might the sooner unburden 
to her his mind. As he left the park and 
made his way through the orchards which 



surrounded Chippingholt, he saw Mr 
Scarse no great distance 'away. 

' That's a queer get-up the old man's 
got on,' muttered Harold, perplexed at 
the wholly unusual combination of a 
snuff-coloured greatcoat and a huge black 
scarf. ' Never saw him in that rig before. 
I wonder what it means ! ' 

As he came up within a dozen paces 
of the thin, white-haired figure, he was 
more than ever puzzled, for he noticed 
that the black scarf was of crape — there 
must have been several yards of it wound 
round the old man's neck. It was un- 
doubtedly Mr Scarse. There was no 
mistaking that clean-shaven, parchment- 
like visage. Burton took off his cap in 
greeting, but did not speak. He knew 
the old man was not well disposed to- 
wards him. Mr Scarse looked blankly 
at him and pressed on without sign of 
recognition ; and even though he had 
half expected it, Captain Burton felt 
mortified at this cut direct. 

' Brenda and I will have to marry with- 
out his consent.' he thought ; ' never 
mind ! ' 

But he did mind. To marry a girl in 
the face of parental opposition was all 
against his inclinations. The future 
looked dismal enough to him at the 
moment, and his spirits were only further 
depressed as the sky began to blacken 
over with portentous clouds. Impres- 
sionable as he was, this endorsement of 
nature was full of meaning for him in his 
then pessimistic frame of mind. The 
sunshine faded to a cold grey, the leaves 
overhead shivered, and seemed to wither 
at the breath of the chill wind ; and when 
he caught sight of Brenda's white dress 
under the oak, her figure looked lonely 
and forlorn. The darkling sky, the bitter 
wind, the stealthy meeting, the solitary 
figure — all these things struck at his heart, 
and it was a pale and silent lover who 
kissed his sweetheart under the ancient 
tree. His melancholy communicated 
itself to Brenda. 

' Bad news, dear — you have bad 
news,' she murmured, looking into his 
downcast face. ' I can see it in your 
eyes.' 

They sat silent on the rustic seat. The 
birds had ceased to sing, the sun to shine, 
and the summer breeze was cold — cold 



A Traitor in London 



as their hearts and hands in that moment 
of sadness. 

They were a handsome couple. The 
man tall, thin -flanked; and soldierly of 
bearing ; dark eyes, dark hair, dark mous- 
tache, and a clean-cut, bronzed face, alert, 
vivacious, and full of intelligence. Brenda 
was a stately blonde, golden-haired, blue- 
eyed, and passionate as one of those 
stormy queens of the Nibelungen Lied, 
to whom love, insistent and impassioned, 
was as the breath of life. Both were 
filled with the exuberant vitality of youth, 
fit to overcome all obstacles, greatly dar- 
ing and resolutely courageous. Yet, 
seated there, hand in hand, they were 
full of despondency— even to cowardice. 
Brenda felt that was so, and made an 
effort to rouse herself and him. 

'Come, dear,' she said, kissing her 
lover, ' the sun will shine again. Things 
can't be so bad as to be past mending. 
He has refused ? ' 

•Absolutely. He won't give me the 
money.' 

'On the grounds that he does not 
approve of me ! ' 

Harold nodded. ' He tried to make out 
that you were in love with Van Zwieten ! ' 

' Oh ! he is so ready to stoop to any 
meanness,' said Brenda, scornfully. ' I 
always disliked Mr Malet. Perhaps my 
dislike is hereditary, for my father detests 
him.' 

' On political grounds ?' 

' Of course. But those are the strongest 
of all grounds for hatred. Religion and 
politics have caused more trouble and 
more wars than — ' she broke off suddenly. 
' Of course you don't believe this about 
Mr van Zwieten.' 

' Need you ask ? ' said Burton, tenderly. 
' The fellow is staying with you still ? ' 

'Yes. He has been here for the last 
two days talking politics with father, and 
worrying me. Thank goodness, he goes 
to-morrow ! ' 

'Glad of it,' growled Burton. ' He is 
the Beast mentioned in Revelation. By 
the way, Brenda, who is Van Zwieten ? ' 

Miss Scarse looked puzzled. ' A friend 
of my father's.' 

' Yes ; but what is his position — where 
does he come from — how does he make 
his income ? There is something mys- 
terious ab-ut the fellow.' 



' He comes from Holland — he is a 
friend of Dr Leyds— -and he is shortly 
going out to fill some post under the 
Transvaal Government. That's all I 
know about him.' 

' He seems to have plenty of money.' 

' Yes, he spends a good deal, to judge 
from what I saw of him in town last 
season. Then he is a popular cricketer, 
you know.' 

' I know. But the idea of a foreigner 
playing cricket ! ' 

' Well, Mr van Zwieten does, and very 
well too. You must have seen about his 
play in the papers. He is a great man 
at Lord's.' 

' All the same, he is a mystery ; and he 
is too much mixed up with the Boers to 
please me. If there is a war, I hope he'll 
be with them that I may have a shy at him.' 

Brenda laughed, and pressed her lover's 
arm. ' You silly boy, you are jealous.' 

'I am, I am. Who wouldn't be 
jealous of you? But this is not war, 
Brenda dear. Let us talk about our- 
selves. I can't get this twenty thousand 
pounds until Malet dies. I see nothing 
for it but to marry on my three hundred 
a year. I daresay we'll scrape along 
somehow.' 

' I have two hundred a year of my 
own,' cried Brenda, vivaciously ; ' that 
makes ten pounds a week. We can 
easily manage on that, dear.' 

' But your father ? ' 

'Oh, he wants me to marry Mr van 
Zwieten, of course,' said she, with great 
scorn. ' So I must just do without his 
consent, that's all. It sounds wrong, 
Harold, doesn't it ? But my father has 
never done his duty by me. Like most 
men who serve the public, he has 
sacrificed his all to that. I was left to 
bring myself up as best I could ; and so 
I think I have the right to dispose of 
myself. My father is nothing to me— 
you are everything.' 

' Dearest ! ' He kissed her. ' Then 
let us marry — but no — ' he broke off 
abruptly. ' If war should break out in 
South Africa I would have to leave you ! ' 

'But I wouldn't be left,' said Brenda, 
merrily. ' I would go out with you — yes, 
to the front ! ' 

' I'm afraid you couldn't do that.' 

' I could and I would. I would go 



A Shot in the Darkness 



officially as a nurse. But, Harold, why 
don't you see your laywer about this 
money? He may find means to force 
Mr Malet to pay it to you.' 

' I intend to see him to-morrow, 
dearest. I am going up to town by the 
six train this evening, though I confess I 
don't like leaving you with this Van 
Zwieten.' 

' I think I can undertake to keep Mr 
van Zwieten at his distance,' said Brenda, 
quietly, 'even though my father en- 
courages him.' 

' I believe your father hates me,' said 
Harold, gloomily. 'He cut me just 
now.' 

' Cut you, dear ; what do you mean ? ' 

' Just what I say, Brenda. I met your 
father, and he cut me dead.' 

She stared at her lover in amazement. 
' You can't possibly have seen my father,' 
she said decisively. 'He is ill with 
influenza, and hasn't left his room for two 
days ! ' 

CHAPTER II 

A SHOT IN THE DARKNESS 

After many and fervent farewells, the 
lovers embraced and went home. It was 
understood that Harold should go to 
London that evening by the five o'clock 
local from Chippingholt, which connected 
with the express at Langton Junction, 
some twenty miles away. After seeing 
his laywer, he was to write her a full 
account of the interview, and arrange 
definitely the details for their marriage. 
Meanwhile, to set his mind at rest, 
Brenda promised to see as little of Van 
Zwieten as possible. 

As her father was ill, she was compelled 
to play the part of hostess — an ungrateful 
one enough toward a guest she so disliked 
— but as the Dutchman had arranged to 
leave next morning, she hoped for so 
short a time to obey the laws of hospi- 
tality, and at the same time keep him at 
his distance. But even so, the situation 
was a trying one, and Brenda relished it 
little. 

The cotta^f was an unpretentious little 
place on the borders of Chippingholt, 
wl:(.rc th orchards begau to stretch to- 
wards the woods. Scarse was not well 



off, and had been fortunate enough to 
obtain it at quite a nominal rental. He 
kept a cook and one housemaid, both of 
whom Brenda looked after ; and despite 
his slender means, his style of living was 
in every way refined. The largest room 
in the house had been turned into a 
study, and here Brenda now found her 
father buried in blue-books, pamphlets 
and newspapers. 

Scarse was a lean, tall, anaemic-looking 
creature. His hair was quite white, 
his pallid and wrinkled face clean-shaven, 
and his whole aspect was one of peevish- 
ness and querulousness. In spite of the 
warmth, he had ordered a fire to be 
lighted, and, wrapped in a llama wool 
dressing-gown, he crouched over it with 
the Daily Mail spread out upon his 
knees. He looked ill and cross, and 
seemed terribly feeble. Brenda was 
more than ever certain, now that she 
saw him, that Harold had been mistaken 
in thinking it was he whom he had met. 
He looked, she thought, more fit for bed 
than for walking. 

' Come in, come in,' he said in his 
thin, cantankerous voice. 'Shut the 
door, Brenda ; there is quite a draught.' 

' Are you no better, father ? ' she asked, 
coming towards him and taking his hand. 
Scarse snatched it away. 

' Not a bit, my dear. This thing has 
a hold of me — I am aching all over. Of 
course it comes just to prevent my speak- 
ing at the Trafalgar Square meeting next 
week ! ' 

' You can send an excuse.' 

'I can't, and I won't,' snapped her 
father. ' This paper shows me how 
necessary it is for all men to protest 
against this unjust war, which has been 
forced upon the Boers. I must speak in 
favour of that honest, God-fearing band 
of farmers, who are in danger of being 
crushed by a capitalist war. I want to see 
Van Zwieten about this article. It is 
perfectly scandalous. Whe'e is he ? ' 

' I don't know. I've n n seen him all 
the afternoon.' 

' Is that the way you attend to your 
guests ? ' 

' He is no guest of mine,' cried Brenda, 
indignantly. 'I can't bear the man. 
His mere presence is most objectionable 
to me.' 



8 



A Traitor in London 



' You are a foolish, strong-headed girl, 
Brenda. Van Zwieten wants to marry 
you, as I have told you, and he is — ' 

' I won't marry him. I detest the man.' 

'And you fancy you are in love with 
that scamp of a Burton ? ' said Sparse, 
frowning. 

'Harold is not a scamp, father. He 
is noble and honest, and everything that 
is good. I will marry no one but him.' 

' I shall never give my consent — never ! ' 

'Then I must do without it,' replied 
Brenda, determinedly. 'I do not want 
to behave otherwise than as a daughter 
should, father, but I love Harold, and I 
hate Van Zwieten.' 

' Don't be silly,' said the M.P., queru- 
lously. 'Van Zwieten is well off. He 
is a good match for you. He can give 
you a good position.' 

'In the Transvaal, I suppose,' scoffed 
Brenda. 

1 Yes. And where could you live better 
than in a new land, where the vices of 
civilisation have not penetrated ! I don't 
speak of Johannesberg, that sink of in- 
iquity, but of Pretoria, and of those towns 
where the Boer element exists pure and 
simple. With your husband in the 
Government you can help him to build 
up an ideal state.' 

' I don't want to build up anything. 
Harold and I can be happy by ourselves.' 

' You shall never marry the scamp, I 
tell you,' cried Scarse, angrily. 'Let 
alone his character, which is bad, he is 
the cousin of that scoundrel Malet, who 
is a bigoted Imperialist — one who is 
doing his best to ruin this country by 
advocating annexation of all and every- 
thing. He is one of those who are 
urging on this war. I hate the man.' 

' Only because you differ from him in 
politics.' 

'No, on other grounds which do not 
concern you. I know Malet — none 
better — and I would gladly see him dead.' 

' Father ! ' Brenda was amazed at the 
savage energy of the old man. 'What 
has Mr Malet done to you that you 
should hate him so ? ' 

' Never mind ! I hate him and I hate 
that young Burton.' 

•Well, father,' said Brenda, quietly, 
*you need not have shown it quite so 
plainly to-day. Harold said you met 



him this afternoon and cut him.' This 
was a tentative remark, as Brenda was 
certain her father could not have been out. 

' Met Burton ! ' said he, raising himself 
angrily. ' What do you mean, child ? ' 

' Were you not out to-day? ' 

' No, I have not left this room.' 

' But Harold said he saw you with a 
snuff-coloured coat and a crape scarf 
round your throat. Father ! ' Brenda 
shrieked, 'what is it?' 

She might well ask. Scarse was always 
pale, but now he was deathly white. He 
reared himself out of his chair with a 
look of terror in his eyes. It was in 
broken sentences he spoke. ' Did . . 
Harold Burton . see me with 

a crape scarf . . . to-day ? ' 

' Yes, yes ; but was it you, father ? 
Why did you wear — ' 

' Hush ! Say no more, Brenda. Go 
away.' 

A faint colour was coming back to his 
face, and he began to look more like 
himself, less like a corpse. Brenda was 
about to demur at leaving him, but he 
stopped her with a peremptory gesture. 
' Go away, Brenda, I say.' 

' But won't you explain — ' 

' There is nothing to explain; go away.' 

She was obliged to obey, and reluct- 
antly she left the room. She could not 
understand her father's emotion, nor 
could she understand the presence in 
Chippingholt of this man with the crape 
scarf, who so nearly resembled him as to 
be mistaken for him by Harold. So far 
as she knew, her father had no relatives. 
But he had always been very reticent 
about his family affairs. She knew no- 
thing of his connections or his past life. 
Her mother she could scarce remember. 
She had died when Brenda was a tiny child, 
and ever since that time she had been 
brought up by strangers far away from 
home. Up to the age of twenty she had 
been at a boarding school, and there she 
had seen next to nothing of her father. 
A casual visit on his part, and a few 
casual questions as to her welfare — her 
mental welfare chiefly — that represented 
Brenda's experience of the domestic 
affections and a father's love. When 
she had come of age Scarse had sent for 
her, and had established her in the 
cottage at Chippingholt, giving her oc« 



A Shot in the Darkness 



casionally a week in London during the 
season. He retained his bachelor cham- 
bers in Start Street, Piccadilly, but never 
took her there, and ever kept her at arm's 
length when she hungered for sympathy 
and love. No wonder, then, that in the 
all-important matter of her marriage she 
felt no inclination to obey the man who 
had been to her but a father in name : 
and no wonder she had fallen in love 
with Harold Burton, and was bent now 
on linking her life with his. He was the 
one human being who had held out to her 
affection and sympathy, and from him she 
determined no earthly power should part 
her. Her father treated her as a pawn on 
the chessboard of life, to be moved about 
as best suited his own purpose. She re- 
garded herself as a human being, with the 
right to consider her own happiness, and 
to work out her own destiny. 

' Never will I marry Van Zwieten,' she 
reiterated to herself as she dressed for 
dinner. 'The man is a tyrant and a 
brute. Father has done nothing for me 
that I should sacrifice myself so for him. 
Together Harold and I will shape a new 
life for ourselves. If father's neglect has 
done nothing else for me, it has at least 
made me self-reliant.' 

As she expected, her father did not 
appear at dinner, alleging his megrims as 
the reason for his non-appearance. But 
Brenda had a very shrewd idea that the 
appearance of this unknown man, who so 
resembled him, had more to do with it. 
She felt sure there was some sort of 
mystery. Her father's life was altogether 
so secretive. But she did not let it dis- 
turb her, and dismissed it from her mind, 
until a chance remark from Van Zwieten 
again roused her curiosity. 

The Dutchman was tall of stature — well 
over six feet, and stout in proportion. A 
well set-up figure assuredly, and what 
would be termed a fine animal. His hair 
and beard were of an ochre colour, and 
his steepy blue eyes, although seeming to 
observe nothing, on the contrary took in 
everything. His complexion was delicate 
as a woman's, and he was slow and soft 
of speech and movement. A casual 
observer might have set him down as 
lethargic and small-brained. But Brenda 
knew that he possessed a fund of energy 
and cunning and dogged determination 



which could be exerted to the detriment 
of those whom his sleepy looks deceived. 
Those blue eyes could sparkle with fire, 
that soft, low voice could ring out like a 
a trumpet, and that huge frame could be 
active and supple as any serpent. Waldo 
van Zwieten he was called, and he had 
lived in London now for the past five years. 

He spoke three or four languages, 
especially English, with wonderful purity 
and fluency. He appeared to have 
plenty of money, and for the most par- 
devoted himself to cricket as an exhilar- 
ating pastime for an idle man. In the 
capacity of a crack batsman he was highly 
popular. No one deemed him anything 
but a lazy foreigner — good-natured, and 
loving England and the English suffici- 
ently well to become an English subject 
in all but an official sense. But he had 
never taken out letters of naturalisation. 

He was correctly attired now in evening 
dress, and took his seat at the table in 
his usual sleepy fashion. His blue eyes 
rested with a look of admiration on Brenda, 
whose blonde beauty was more dazzling 
than ever in her dinner dress of black 
gauze and silk. She apologised for her 
father's absence, and winced at Van 
Zwieten's compliments. 

' You leave me nothing to desire, Miss 
Scarse,' said he. 'I could wish for no 
more delightful position than this.' 

'Please don't,' replied Brenda, annoyed. 
' I'm sure you would rather talk politics 
to my father than nonsense to me.' 

' I never talk nonsense to anyone, Miss 
Scarse ; least of all to you. Thank you, 
I will take claret. By the way, it was 
rather unwise of Mr Scarse to go out to- 
day with this cold upon him.' 

' He was not out to-day.' 

'Indeed, I think so. I saw him and 
spoke to him.' 

' You spoke to him ? Had he a snuff- 
coloured coat and a crape scarf on ? ' 

' No ; he was dressed as usual in his 
tweed suit' 

Brenda looked at him sceptically. Her 
father had denied being out. Yet this 
man said he had actually spoken with 
him, but according to him he was not 
dressed like the man Harold had described. 
Could two men be so much alike ? And 
why had her father been so moved when 
she had related Harold's experience ? 



IO 



A Traitor in London 



'Are you sure it was my father you 
spoke to?' she asked, after a pause. 

Van Zwieten flashed a keen glance at 
her puzzled face, and was evidently as 
puzzled himself. ' I am certain it was 
Mr Scarse,' he said quietly. ' I had no 
reason to think otherwise. Why do you 
doubt my word ? ' 

' My father denies having been out.' 
' In that case I should have said nothing. 
Mr Scarse evidently has some reason for 
his denial. But cannot we select a more 
pleasant subject of conversation ? ' 

' Such as what ? ' demanded Brenda, 
wondering at this sudden change. 

'Yourself or Captain Burton. I saw 
him to-day.' 

' That is very likely,' she replied, quietly 
divining Van Zwieten's intention. ' Cap- 
tain Burton is staying at the " Chequers 
Inn." At least he was staying there, 
but he left for London at five.' 

' Oh, indeed ! He must have changed 
his mind then, for it was after six when 
I saw him.' 

' I suppose he is privileged to change 
his mind,' said Brenda. All the same 
she was puzz^d to account for Harold's 
remaining at Chippingholt. 

Thwarted in this direction, Van 
Zwieten tried another. He was bent on 
making Brenda confess an interest in 
Burton, so as to lead up to an explanation 
of his own feelings. 'It is strange,' said 
he, slowly, 'that Captain Burton does 
not stay at the Manor.' 

' Why do you think it strange, Mr van 
Zwieten ? ' 

' Ach ! is it not strange ? His brother 
Wilfred stays there — he is there now. 
Mr Malet is Captain Burton's cousin, and 
he is hospitable — not to me,' added he, 
with a sleepy smile ; ' Mr Malet does not 
like me.' 

Brenda ignored this last remark. ' If 
you ask Captain Burton for his reasons 
I have no doubt he will gratify your 
curiosity,' she said coldly. 

' Oh, I do not care ; it is nothing to me.' 
Van Zwieten paused, then resumed very de- 
liberately, ' I do not like Captain Burton.' 
' Really ! The loss is his.' 
' I do not like Captain Burton,' repeated 
Van Zwiettn, 'because he likes 50U.' 

1 What has that to do with me ? ' asked 
Brenda, injudiciously. 



' Everything. I love you — I want to 
marry you ! ' 

' You told me all about that, Mr van 
Zwieten, and I told you I was unable to 
marry you. It was agreed that we should 
drop the subject.' 

' Captain Burton loves you and wants to 
marry you,' pursued the big man, doggedly, 
' and so I do not like Captain Burton,' 

The situation was becoming embar- 
rassing, but the man was evidently acting 
and speaking with a set purpose. ' Please 
say no more, Mr van Zwieten,' said 
Brenda, trying to control her temper. 
Still he went on resolutely. 

'When we are married we will see 
nothing of Captain Burton.' 

'That will never be. I shall never 
marry you.' 

' Oh, yes ; your father is willing.' 

' But I am not.' Brenda rose with a 
glance of anger. ' How dare you take 
advantage of my father's absence to in- 
sult me?' 

' I do not insult you,' went on the 
Dutchman, with a quiet smile. ' One 
does not insult one's future wife.' 

' I would rather die than marry you ! ' 
She walked to the door. ' You have no 
right to speak to me like this. I refuse 
to see you again, and I shall tell my 
father of your behaviour.' 

She swept out of the room in a fury, 
feeling herself helpless in the face of the 
man's persistency. Her departure, how- 
ever, did not ruffle him in the least. He 
went on eating and smiling as though the 
interview had ended entirely to his satis- 
faction. After a good meal he lighted a 
cigar and went along to Mr Scarse's study. 
The door was locked. He knocked, but 
there was no answer. 

Van Zwieten was puzzled. There were 
matters connected with Mr Scarse which 
he did not understand, and which he 
wished very much to understand. After 
pondering for a few moments, he pnt on 
a greatcoat, in spite of the warmth of the 
night, a smasher hat of the Boer style, 
and stepped out by the front door. 
Thence he passed round to the French 
windows which lighted the study. The 
blinds were down, and the yellow lamp- 
light shone through them from within. 
Van Zwieten tried the catch of one win- 
dow. It yielded, and he slipped into 



A Shot in the Darkness 



ii 



the room. The lamp, fully turned up, 
was on the table ; some papers were 
spread out on the blotting-pad on the 
desk, but there was no one in the room. 
He glanced at the papers, but could 
gather nothing from them to account for 
the absence of Scarse. He reflected, and 
recollected what Brenda had said. 

' A snuff-coloured coat ; a crape scarf ! ' 
he mused. 'So!' Then he left the room, 
closed the window after him, and vanished 
stealthily as a cat into the blackness of 
th ■ night. 

Meanwhile Brenda had gone to her 
room, furious with Van Zwieten and her 
father — with the former because he would 
persist in his attentions, with the latter 
because he exposed her to their annoy- 
ance. Not knowing that the Dutchman 
had gone out, she decided to remain 
upstairs, so as to avoid meeting him in 
the drawing-room. But her bedroom was 
so small, the night so hot, and she felt so 
restless, that eventually she decided to 
go up to Holt Manor and see Lady Jenny. 
Gilbert's wife was a pretty, frivolous 
woman, with a good heart, a long tongue, 
and an infinite capacity for wasting 
money. Malet was devoted to her, and 
it was common talk that she could twist 
him round her finger. If she interested 
herself in the matter there might be a 
chance still of Harold's getting the money. 
Lady Jenny always declared, in her ex- 
aggerated way, that Brenda was the 
sweetest girl in the world, so, putting on 
her hat and cloak, Brenda determined to 
learn whether Lady Jenny really was her 
friend or merely a society acquaintance. 
The night was moonless, hot, and 
almost without air. What the Scotch 
call uncanny. All day clouds had been 
rolling up from the south, and now the 
sky was an immense mass of bluish-black 
vapour hanging low over the dry and 
gasping earth. No breath of wind, no 
sound of life, human or animal. The 
earth lay dumb under that tent of gloom. 
Brenda felt stifled as she took the short 
way through the orchards. Knowing 
every inch of the ground, she made no 
mistake, and was occasionally aided by a 
vivid flash of lightning, which ran in 
sheets of sudden flame from east to west. 
With her nimble feet and her know- 
ledge of all the short cuts, it took her only 



twenty minutes to arrive at the Manor. 
She noted the time — nine o'clock — for 
the village chimes rang out as she halted 
at the porch of the great house. Here 
she was doomed to disappointment, for 
Lady Jenny — as the servant informed her 
—had gone to the Rectory with Mr 
Wilfred Burton. 

' Mr Malet w-jnt out for a stroll too, 
miss,' said the butler, who knew her very 
well ; ' but any message — ' 

' Oh, no message, Roberts,' said 
Brenda, hurriedly ; ' that is — I will call 
on Lady Jenny to-morrow. Good-night.' 

' Won't you have an umbrella, miss ? 
It looks stormy.' 

' No, thank you ; I shall no doubt 
reach home before the storm breaks. 
Good-night.' 

But she was wrong in thinking so. 
Hardly had she left the park gates when 
the storm came. A blue zig-zag flared 
across the dark sky, there was a crash of 
thunder, and on the wings of a bitterly 
cold wind came the- rain. The storm 
was tropical in its suddenness and fury. 
The wind struck Brenda like a solid 
mass, and she had to grasp the trunk of 
an apple tree near by to keep her feet. 
With a hiss and a shriek the rain shot 
down — one deluge of water, as though 
the windows of heaven were opened as 
in the days of Noah's flood. A furious 
wind tore at the tree-tops, rending 
boughs, clashing the branches together, 
and sending a myriad leaves flying abroad 
like swarms of bees. The drenching 
rain spattered and drummed on the 
woods, and in the open was driven in 
slanting masses of water by the force of 
the blast. Anxious to get under shelter, 
and terrified by the fierce lightning, 
Brenda kilted up her skirts and ran 
blindly through the trees at the risk of 
breaking her head. Her feet squelched 
in the soaking grass, and she was shaken 
and driven like a leaf by the furious 
gusts. Still on she stumbled in a dazed 
condition. It was a witch storm, and the 
powers of hell rode on the flying clouds. 

Suddenly her foot tripped, and she 
fell full length on the grass, which was 
more like a morass. As she struggled to 
her knees the heavens overhead broke 
out in one dazzling sheet of flame, which 
for the moment threw a noon-day light 



12 



A Traitor in London 



on the scene. There, under a tree, but 
a short distance away, Brenda saw a tall, 
dark, bulky figure standing-. Hardly had 
the darkness shut down again when she 
heard a startled cry. Then a shot rang 
out with terrible distinctness, and then 
again the roaring of the tempest. Hardly 
knowing what she was doing, Brenda 
got on her feet, shaking and terrified. 
She ran forward. A second flare of 
lightning lighted the orchards with hell- 
fire, livid and blue. Almost at her feet 
she saw the body of a man. There came 
another deafening crash of thunder, and 
she staggered. A moment later and she 
lay senseless across the body of the un- 
known man shot in the darkness by an 
unknown hand. 



CHAPTER III 

THE NAME OF THE VICTIM 

The cook at Mr Scarse's cottage was in 
a great state of alarm. She did not mind 
an ordinary tempest of respectable Eng- 
lish character coming at its due and 
proper season. But this gale, at the 
close of a quiet summer day, arriving 
with so little warning and raging with 
such fury, had frightened her beyond 
measure. As a precautionary measure 
against the frequent lightning, she con- 
cealed the knives, covered up all the 
mirrors and reflective surfaces generally, 
and threw the fire-irons into the garden. 
Having thus safeguarded the cottage 
against the bolts of heaven, Mrs Daw — 
so she was called — insisted that the 
housemaid, a whimpering orphan of 
meagre intelligence, should go round the 
house with her to see if anyone or any- 
thing had been struck. They found 
dining-room, drawing-room and bed- 
rooms deserted, and the door of their 
master's study locked. 

' Lor' ! ' said Mrs Daw, her fat face 
ashen pale, ' an' 'e may be lyin' a corp in 
there, poor dear ! ' 

'Oh, no, he ain't,' responded the 
shaking housemaid ; ' I 'ear voices. Jus' 
put your eye to the keyhole, cook-' 

But the cook's valour did not extend 
thus far. She also heard the murmur of 
voices, and, thinking her master and his 



friend the Dutchman were within, 
knocked at the door to bring them out 
for company. 

'We may as well go to 'eaven in a 
'eap,' said Mrs Daw, knocking steadily 
like a woodpecker. 

The door opened so suddenly that the 
two women recoiled with shrieks against 
the wall of the passage. Scarse, looking 
pale and upset, stepped out and closed 
the door after him. Judging him by 
themselves, they attributed his scared 
appearance to fright at the storm, and 
were ready to receive any amount of 
sympathy. But it soon appeared that 
their master had none to give them. 

' What's all this ? Why are you here ? ' 
he demanded, angry and suspicious. 

' It's the storm, sir,' whimpered Mrs 
Daw, holding on to the housemaid. ' I'm 
that feared as never was. Miss Brenda's 
hout, sir, and Mr van Zwieten's with you, 
and me an' Tilda's a-shakin' like jelly.' 

' Miss Brenda out ! ' repeated Scarse, 
starting. 'Oh, yes, I recollect she said 
something about going to the Rectory.' 
This was untrue, but he seemed to think 
it necessary to make some excuse even 
to the servants. ' I daresay Miss Brenda 
has been storm-bound there, and, as you 
say, Mr van Zwieten is with me. There 
is nothing to be afraid of. Go back to 
the kitchen.' 

' The 'ouse may be struck, sir ! ' 

'The house won't be struck,' said 
Scarse, impatiently. 'Don't be a fool. 
It is almost ten o'clock — go to bed;' 
and stepping back into the study, he 
closed and locked the door. Cook and 
housemaid tottered back to the kitchen. 

' I'll give notice to-morrer,' wailed the 
former. ' It ain't right for two lone women 
to be without a manly arm. If 'e only 
kep' a footman or a coachman it 'ud be a 
'elp. 'And me the Church Service, Tilda, 
an' we'll pray as we may not be took.' 

' Ow, ain't it orful ! ' yelped Tilda, as a 
fiercer blast than usual shook the cottage. 
' Turn up the Berryial Service, cook.' 

This request the cook hurriedly obeyed, 
and the two were soon cheerfully em- 
ployed in drawing what comfort they 
could from this somewhat depressing 
selection. The clock struck ten, and so 
unstrung were their nerves that they 
simultaneously jumped and shrieked. 



The Name of the Victim 



13 



Tilda declared that the candle burned 
blue ; that a coal in the form of a coffin 
had jumped out of the kitchen range ; and 
meanwhile the storm raved and howled 
without, shaking the house, tearing at 
doors and windows as though twenty 
thousand demons were trying to force an 
entrance. In their terrified frame of mind 
Mrs Daw and her factotum actually 
believed that such might be the case. 

But they soon had further cause for 
alarm. The kitchen door was tried, but 
Mrs Daw had locked it. Immediately 
there came a furious knocking, insistent 
and incessant. Tilda shrieked, and 
scrambled under the table. Mrs Daw 
dropped the Church Service, and grasped 
the poker with a trembling hand. There 
was a crash of thunder which went grind- 
ing over the roof — then the battering at 
the door again. 

' Quick ! Quick ! Let me in ! ' wailed 
a voice, thin, high-pitched and terrified. 

' Don't, don't ! ' shrieked Tilda, grovel- 
ling under the table. 'Oh, lor', wot a 
bad girl I 'ave been.' 

But Mrs Daw, somewhat recovered 
from her terror, thought she recognised 
the voice, in spite of its accent of pain. 
' Yer's a fool, Tilda. It's Miss Brenda ! ' 
and she unlocked the door, still grasping 
the poker in case she should be mistaken. 
As the door flew open a wild blast tore 
into the kitchen, and Tilda shrieked 
again. Mrs Daw, too, uttered an exclama- 
tion, for Brenda fell forward, flung into 
her arms. The girl was soaking wet, 
wild-eyed and white-faced with terror. 
She could hardly speak, and clung, chok- 
ing and shaking, to the terrified cook. 
The door banged to with a crash. 

' Murder ! Help ! ' gasped Brenda, 
hoarsely. ' Oh, my God ! he is dead ! ' 

' Dead ! Murder ! ' shrieked Mrs Daw, 
dropping the poker, and Tilda wailed in 
sympathetic chorus. ' Lor", miss ! 
Who's 'e ? ' 

' I don't know — he is dead — shot — in 
the orchards,' said Brenda, and fell down 
in a dead faint for the second time that 
night. Usually she was not given to such 
feminine weakness, but the terrors of the 
night had proved altogether too much 
for her. 

Having something human to deal with, 
Mrs Daw recovered her presence of mind 



and unloosened Brenda's cloak. ' Poor 
dear ! she's frightened out of her wits, an' 
no wonder. Tilda, tell 'er pa there's 
murders and faintings. Look sharp ! ' 

Tilda crawled from under the table and 
across the floor. She raised herself with 
a sudden effort of will, and was soon 
hammering at the study door. 

' Master — sir ! 'Elp — murder — per- 
lice ! Oh, sir,' as Scarse came out hur- 
riedly, ' Miss Brenda's in the kitchen, an' 
there's murder ! ' 

He seized her wrists with an ejaculation 
of alarm. ' Who is murdered ? Speak, 
girl!' 

'I don't know. Miss Brenda sez as 
there's murder. Oh, lor', what will be- 
come of us ! ' 

Scarse shook her so that her teeth 
chattered. ' Go back to the kitchen,' he 
said sternly. ' I'll follow directly,' and 
Tilda found herself hurled against the 
wall, with the study door closed and 
locked. Her surprise at such treatment 
overcame even her terror. 

' Well, 'e is a father ! ' she gasped, and 
her wits being somewhat more agile now 
that she was less afraid, she flew to the 
dining-room and snatched the spirit-stand 
from the sideboard. With this she 
arrived in the kitchen and found Brenda 
regaining her senses. 

' Ain't 'e comin' ? ' asked Mrs Daw, 
slapping Brenda's hands violently as a 
restorative measure. 

'In a minute. 'Ere, give' 'er some 
brandy. Where's a glarss ? Oh, a cup '11 
do. Oh, ain't it all dreadful ; just 'ear 
the wind ! ' 

' Hold your tongue and lock the door,! 
said Mrs Daw, snatching the cup from 
Tilda. ' Come, miss, try and drink this.' 

She forced the strong spirit down 
Brenda's throat. The girl gasped and 
coughed, then the colour slowly mounted 
to her cheeks, and she raised her head 
feebly. 

' What is it ?' she asked faintly. Then 
she shuddered and covered her face. 
'Ah! the murder! Shot !— shot— oh, 
God, how terrible ! ' 

'Don't you be afraid, miss j the doors 
are all locked, an' nothin' or no one can 
git in.' Then a shriek from Mrs Daw 
followed a sudden clanging of the bell. 
' Whatever's that ? ' 



14 



A Traitor in London 



' Front door,' replied Tilda, casting a 
glance at the row of bells. ' I'll answer ; 
give 'er more brandy, cook.' 

As the housemaid left, Brenda moaned 
and struggled to her feet. ' Oh, the 
terrible darkness — the body — his body — 
in the wet grass ! Father ! Where is my 
father ? ' 

' 'E's a-comin', dearie,' said Mrs Daw, 
giving her more brandy. ' Take another 
sup, dearie. Who is it as is murdered, 
miss ? ' she asked in a scared whisper. 

' I don't know. I could not see — the 
darkness — I fell over the body. I saw 
nothing. Oh ! ' She started up with a 
shriek. 'Oh, if it really should be 
Harold ! ' Then she was overcome with 
anguish, and Tilda darted back to the 
kitchen. 

' Would you believe,' cried she to Mrs 
Daw, ' it's the furriner ! An' master said 
as 'e was in 'is study talkin' to 'im ! ' 

' Lor', so 'e did ! ' said Mrs Daw, awe- 
struck at having detected her master in a 
lie. ' And 'e was out all the time ! What 
does Mr van Zwieten say, Tilda ? ' 

' Van Zwieten ! ' shrieked Brenda, who 
was clinging to the table. ' Has he been 
out ? Ah ! he hated Harold — the dead 
man — oh ! ' her voice leaped an octave, 
' he has killed my Harold ! ' 

' What ! ' shrieked the other woman in 
turn, and Mrs Daw, throwing her apron 
over her head, began to scream with the 
full force of her lungs. Tilda joined in, 
losing all remnant of control, and Brenda 
sank in a chair white-faced and silent. 
The conviction that Harold had been 
murdered stunned her. 

At this moment there was heard the 
sound of footsteps coming rapidly nearer. 
Scarse, with an angry and terrified ex- 
pression, appeared on the scene. Close 
behind him came Van Zwieten, who 
seemed, as ever, quite undisturbed and 
master of himself. Brenda caught sight 
of him, and darting forward, seized the 
man by the lappels of his coat. ' Harold ! ' 
she cried, ' you have killed my Harold ! ' 

' Harold — Burton ! ' replied Scarse, 
aghast. ' Is he dead ? ' 

' Dead — murdered ! Oh, I am certain 
of it. And you killed him. You! You!' 

Van Zwieten said not a word, but re- 
mained perfectly calm. He saw that the 
girl was beside herself with terror and 



grief, that she knew not what she was 
saying or doing. Without a word he 
picked her up in his strong arms and 
carried her moaning and weeping into 
the drawing-room. Scarse rated Mrs 
Daw and Tilda sharply for so losing their 
heads, and followed the Dutchman. 
But before leaving the kitchen he was 
careful to take with him the key of the 
back door. ' No one leaves this house 
to-night,' he said sharply ; ' I must inquire 
into this. Give me that spirit-stand. 
Now go to bed, you fools.' 

' Bed ! ' wailed Mrs Daw, as her master 
left the room. ' Lor', I'll never sleep 
again — not for weeks any'ow. I daren't 
lie alone. Oh, what an 'orful night. I'll 
give notice to-morrow, that for sure ! ' 

'So'll I,' squeaked Tilda. With this 
the two went shivering to a common 
couch, full of prayers and terror, and 
prepared to die — if die they must — in 
company. 

In the drawing-room Brenda was 
huddled up in a chair, terrified out of her 
wits. Van Zwieten, calm and masterful, 
stood before the fireplace with his big 
hands clasped loosely before him. His 
trousers were turned up, his boots were 
soaking, and there were rain-drops in his 
curly hair. For the rest he was dry, and 
the storm had- not made the slightest im- 
press on his strong nerves. When Scarse 
entered he threw a steely and inquisitive 
glance at the old man, who winced and 
shrank back with an expression of fear 
on his face. Van Zwieten, ever on the 
alert for the signs of a guilty conscience, 
noted this with secret satisfaction. 

'Now then, Brenda,' said her father, 
recovering at last some of his presence of 
mind, ' what is all this about ? You say 
that Burton is dead — that Mr van Zwieten 
killed him.' 

' Ah ! ' interposed the Dutchman, 
stroking his beard, ' I should like to know 
how I managed that.' 

'You hated him! ' cried Brenda, sitting 
up straight with a sudden access of vigour. 
' You told me so to-night at dinner ! ' 

' Pardon me ; I said I did not like Cap- 
tain Burton. But as to hating him — ' 
Van Zwieten shrugged his shoulders ; 
'that is an extreme word to use. But 
even if I did hate him you can hardly 
deduce from that that I should kill him ! ' 



The Name of the Victim 



15 



'He was shot, shot in the orchards, 
not far from the Manor gates. You were 
out—' 

'That is scant evidence to justify a 
charge of murder,' interposed Scarse, 
angrily. ' You are unstrung and hysteri- 
cal, Brenda. How did you come to be 
out yourself in such a storm?' 

' I went to see Lady Jenny at the Manor, 
about — about Harold's money. She was 
not in, so I came back by the short cut 
through the orchards. A flash of light- 
ning showed him to me there, standing 
under a tree. Then there was a shot and 
a cry, and I ran forward, and fell over his 
body.' 

' Whose body ? ' 

' I don't know — at least, I think it was 
Harold's body. Mr van Zwieten hated 
him.' 

' It may not be Harold at all,' said her 
father, impatiently; 'you are jumping to 
conclusions — the wildest conclusions, 
Brenda. Did you see his face ? ' 

' No ; how could I ? It was dark.' 

' Then how on earth do you know it 
was Captain Burton?' 

' I am not sure, of course ; but I think 
so. Oh, father, do you think — Oh, 
perhaps, after all, it may not have been 
Harold.' 

Scarse shook off her clinging hands. 
* I think you're a fool,' he said sharply, 
'and this wild talk of Burton's being 
dead is pure imagination on your part.' 

' I hope so — oh, how I hope so ! ' and 
Brenda shivered. 

Van Zwieten, who had been listening 
with a cynical smile on his face, burst 
into a laugh, at which Brenda looked 
angrily at him. 'Excuse me, Miss Scarse,' 
he said politely, ' but it is my opinion no 
one is dead at all. The shot and cry 
were no doubt the outcome of a thunder- 
crash. You were upset by the storm, and 
it seemed to you like — what you say.' 

' But a man is dead,' protested Brenda, 
rising. ' In my anxiety for Harold I may 
have been mistaken in thinking it was he. 
Stiil, someone was shot— I fell over the 
body and fainted.' 

' The man may have fainted also,' sug- 
gested her father. 

' If I may make a suggestion,' said 
Van Zwieten, with strong common sense, 
' we are all talking without any reasonable 



sort of basis. Before we assume that a 
crimehasbeen committed, I would suggest 
that we go to the orchards and see if we 
can find the body.' 

'No, no,' cried Scarse, shrinking back. 
' Impossible at this hour, and on such a 
night.' 

'The storm is dying away,' said the 
Dutchman, derisively. ' However, if you 
don't care to come, I can go myself.' 

' I will go with you,' cried Brenda, 
springing to her feet. 

' For you, Miss Scarse, I think it is 
hardly wise. You are very much upset 
Had you not better go to bed ? ' 

' I couldn't sleep with this on my mind. 
I must know if it is Harold or not. If it 
is, I am certain you shot him, and until I 
know the truth I don't let you out of my 
sight.' 

' Very good.' Van Zwieten bowed and 
smiltd. ' Come, then, and guide me.' 

' Brenda, you can't go out now. I 
forbid you — it is not fit or proper.' 

' What do I care for propriety in such 
a case as this?' cried Brenda, in a 
passion. 'Come with me then, father.' 

' No, I can't — I am too ill.' 

Van Zwieten cast an amused look at 
Scarse, and the old man winced again. 
He turned away and poured himself out 
a glass of brandy. Without taking any 
further notice of him, Brenda put on her 
wet cloak and left the room, followed 
almost immediately by the Dutchman. 
Van Zwieten had many questions to ask 
his host, for he knew a good deal, and 
guessed more ; but this was not the time 
for cross-examination. It was imperative 
that the identity of the deceased should 
be ascertained, and Van Zwieten wished 
to be on the spot when the discovery 
was made. As he left the room he heard 
the glass in Scarse's trembling hand clink 
against the decanter, and the sound made 
him smile. He guessed the cause of such 
perturbation. 

The rain had ceased for the moment, 
but the wind was still high, and dense 
black clouds hurtled across the sky. A 
pale moon showed herself every now and 
then from behind the flying wrack, and 
fitfully lighted the midnight darkness. 

As she was with Van Zwieten, Brenda 
took a wide circle through the village 
street. There were many people about 



i6 



A Traitor in London 



in spite of the bad weather — some with 
lanterns — but Brenda could not gather 
from the scraps of conversation she 
heard whether the report of the dead 
man lying in the orchards had got abroad. 

In silence Van Zwieten strode along 
beside her, apparently indifferent to any- 
thing. His attitude irritated the girl, and 
when the wind lulled for a moment she 
demanded sharply where he had been on 
that night. 

'You will be surprised to hear, Miss 
Scarse, that I went to see Captain Burton.' 

' And why ? ' asked Brenda, taken 
aback by this answer — the last she had 
expected to hear. 

'To warn him,' replied Van Zwieten, 
coolly. 

' Warn him — about what — against 
whom?' 

' About my engagement to you — against 
myself.' 

' I am not engaged to you, but to him,' 
said Brenda, almost with a cry of despair. 

It seemed impossible to make this man 
understand how she hated him. 

' I think you are engaged to me, ' said 
the Dutchman, deliberately. ' You say no, 
but that is girl's talk. I am not to be 
beaten by a girl. I always get what I 
want, and I want you.' 

The wind rose again, and further con- 
versation was impossible. Brenda walked 
on, praying for strength to escape this 
terrible man. She could not rid herself 
of the idea that the dead man was her 
own true lover. Van Zwieten might have 
seen him, as he said, might have quarrelled 
with him and shot him. The fear chilled 
her heart, and when next the wind fell 
she again taxed Van Zwieten. 'You 
killed him ? ' she cried. 

'You will insist on that, but you are 
wrong. I never saw Captain Burton. 
He was not at the inn when I called.' 

'He had gone to town,' said Brenda, 
breathless with joy. 

' No, he had gone to the Rectory.' 

Brenda stopped short. Lady Jenny 
had gone to the Rectory also. Perhaps 
Harold had seen her, and had asked for 
her aid. While she was wondering if this 
might be so, there was a great shouting, 
and in the distance she saw the blaze of 
torches borne by many people. The 
wind made them flare furiously. 



' Ach ! ' said Van Zwieten under his 
breath, ' they know now.' 

In the high wind Brenda did not hear 
him. Guessing that the concourse meant 
the discovery of the body, she flew along 
the road like a lapwing. The procession 
was coming towards the Manor gates from 
the direction of the orchards. Some men 
were shouting, some women screaming, 
but the solid group surrounded by the 
red, smoking lights remained silent. Van 
Zwieten followed noiselessly, and reached 
the group almost as soon as Brenda. 

' You see, ' he breathed in the girl's ear, 
' he is alive ! ' 

Brenda gave a cry of joy and flung her- 
self into the arms of the foremost man. 

' Harold ! Harold ! Thank God you 
are safe!' 

' Brenda ! What are you doing here ? 
Go back ! go back ! ' 

' No, no. Tell me who — who is dead. 
Who has been murdered ? ' 

Seeing she knew so much, Harold signed 
to the men carrying the body to stop. 
They set down the gate on which it rested. 

' Malet ! ' cried Brenda, as she recog- 
nised the features of the corpse. ' It is 
Mr Malet ! ' 



CHAPTER IV 

A STRANGE PIECE OF EVIDENCE 

Next morning there was great excitement 
in Chippingholt. That a murder should 
have taken place in that peaceful hamlet 
was bad enough, but that the victim 
should be the lord of the Manor himself 
was terrible beyond words. The body 
was carried up to the house, and the 
rural constable, not feeling himself com- 
petent to deal with so unusual an incident, 
sent for instructions to the police station 
at Langton. 

Towards mid-day an inspector and 
constables came over to investigate. The 
inspector proceeded at once to the Manor 
and interviewed Lady Jenny. Her cool- 
ness and powers of endurance in such 
trying circumstances amazed even this 
stolid official. 

She was a small, slightly-built woman, 
with a sylph-like figure, dark blue eyes 
and dark hair. Her rose-leaf skin was 



A Strange Piece of Evidence 



/ 



wonderfully delicate of tint and texture, 
and she looked fragile enough to be blown 
away by a breath of wind. She was said 
to be both frivolous and emotional, a 
shallow creature, fond of nothing but 
pleasure and spending money. In this 
emergency everyone expected her to 
relapse into hysteria, and to be quite 
incapable of any control over her feelings ; 
but, to their surprise, she was all the 
opposite of this, and shed hardly a tear. 
She received the news of the death almost 
apathetically, directed the body to be laid 
out in the bed which her husband had 
occupied when alive, and herself calmed 
the emotions of the household. 

Indeed, Wilfred Burton was far more 
upset about the murder than was Lady 
Jenny. He expressed his amazement at 
her wonderful self-control. He was lying 
on the sofa in her morning-room when 
he spoke to her on the subject. 

'Someone must manage things,' said 
the brave little woman, ' and I know well 
enough you're incapable, poor dear ! 
Harold could be of use, I know, but I 
don't want him just now. When I do, 
I'll send for him.' 

' He was here this morning, Jenny.' 

' I know he was ; I saw him before you 
were up. He told me about the finding 
of poor Gilbert's body.' 

' Who found it ? ' 

' Branksom, the lodgekeeper. He was 
coming home from the village about ten 
last night, and took the short path through 
the orchards. He stumbled over a body 
in the dark, and lit a match to see who it 
was, thinking it was some drunken man. 
The match blew out, but he recognised 
Gilbert, and saw the blood on his face, 
so he ran back to give the alarm. Harold, 
who was at the " Chequers," heard of the 
murder, and came with a man to remove 
the body. In fact, he was the first to 
arrive, and he examined the corpse before 
the rest came up.' 

Wilfred, a pale-faced, delicate-looking 
young man, with, large, dark eyes, and a 
hectic flush on his face, shuddered at the 
calmness with which Lady Jenny went 
into these details. ' I don't know how 
you can do it ! ' he gasped, putting his 
hand to his throat like a hysterical woman. 
' It is terrible. And I thought you were 
so fond of Gilbert.' 



'Yes, I was fond of him,' said Lady 
Jenny, with emphasis, ' but I learned 
something about him lately which rather 
checked my fondness.' 

'What?' 

* Something that concerned our two 
selves only, Wilfred. Poor Gilbert ! He 
is dead, so I suppose I must forgive him.' 

'I wonder who killed him?' said 
Wilfred. 

'I wonder. Of course Gilbert made 
many enemies.' 

' Political e,nemies ? ' 

' Yes, and private ones also. My dear 
Wilfred,' said Lady Jenny, laying her 
hand on the young man's arm, ' I wish 
to speak well of the dead, especially as 
the dead was my husband, but Gilbert 
was not a good man.' 

Wilfredlooked at her doubtfully. ' You 
speak as though you knew something.' 

'So I do; but that something has 
nothing to do with the murder. I have no 
more idea who killed him than you have.' 

This conversation was interrupted by 
a message from Inspector Woke asking to 
see Lady Jenny, so she left the room at 
once. Mr Inspector, a fat, stolid little 
man, much flurried by the unusual re- 
sponsibility resting on his shoulders, had 
already seen the doctor and those who 
had found the body. He set about open- 
ing up the matter in his own way. 

'I have seen the doctor, my lady,' he 
said, wiping his face and breathing hard. 
'He tells me the deceased must have 
been murdered at about half-past nine 
last night. The wound is on the right 
temple, and as the skin and hair are 
burnt and blackened with gunpowder, the 
shot must have been fired at close 
quarters. Death must have come very 
speedily, my lady. We can find no 
bullet, as it passed right through the 
deceased's head, and no weapon, although 
we have searched the orchards. All the 
evidence, my lady, must be circumstantial. 
We must find out who had a grudge 
against the deceased, or who had an 
interest in his death.' 

Lady Jenny arranged the ruffles of 
crape round her neck — she was in mourn- 
ing for her father, and had been for some 
weeks — and laughed coldly. She thought 
very little of this elaborate explanation, 
and less of the man who made it. The 



i8 



A Traitor in London 



inspector she took to be a man of the 
smallest intelligence, and one wedded to 
the red-tapeism and stereotyped routine 
of criminal procedure as conducted by 
the police generally. 

' Mr Malet had many enemies,' she 
said quietly. ' He was a politician, and 
at one time — not so long ago — was con- 
nected with the War Office.' 

'Can you tell me the names of any 
who had a grudge against him, my lady ? ' 

' No ; he told me he had enemies, but 
gave no explanation. Nor did I seek 
any. But this is a circumscribed neigh- 
bourhood, Mr Woke, and not over- 
populated. If a stranger came down to 
murder my husband, we should have no 
difficulty in getting a description of him.' 

Woke pricked up his ears. ' Does your 
ladyship, then, suspect some stranger ? ' 

' It is only an idea of mine,' replied Lady 
Jenny, coldly. ' I have no reasonable 
grounds for making a definite assertion. 
Still, my husband was popular to a cer- 
tain extent in Chippingholt, and I know 
no one, I can think of no person, likely 
to desire his death.' 

' It might have been a stranger,' mused 
Woke. 'Rural murderers do not use 
revolvers as a rule, and if they did it would 
hardly be at such close quarters as this. 
Can you inform me of the movements of 
this household last night, my lady?' 

' Certainly. We dined at seven as 
usual. The night was hot and airless 
before the storm, so my husband said he 
would go out for a walk. He put a light 
coat over his evening dress, and strolled 
through the park. It was after eight 
when he went out.' 

' He did not say where he was going ? ' 

'No, merely remarked that he would 
like a breath of fresh air. That was the 
last I saw of him. After eight I received 
a message from Captain Burton asking if 
I could call and see him at the Rectory.' 

' Why did he not wait on your ladyship 
here?' 

Lady Jenny changed colour, and her 
hands became restless. 'He was not on 
good terms with my husband. They 
quarrelled over some family matter, and 
Captain Burton refused to enter this 
house again.' 

' Oh ! ' said Woke, significantly. ' And 
where was Captain Burton last night ? ' 



'He stayed at the "Chequers," but 
as, of course, I could not meet him at a 
public-house, he asked me to go to the 
Rectory. The rector is a mutual friend.' 

' Did you go ? ' 

' I left shortly before nine o'clock with 
Mr Wilfred Burton.' 

' Who is he, my lady ? ' 

' My husband's cousin — Captain 
Burton's brother. He is staying at the 
Manor, and has been here for the last 
month.' 

' Oh ! ' grunted Woke again — it seemed 
to be his method of expressing satisfaction 
— ' then Mr Wilfred Burton was not on 
bad terms with the deceased ? ' 

'No. They were excellent friends. 
Mr Burton is rather nervous and delicate, 
and my husband was careful of his health. 
I asked Mr Burton to go with me to the 
Rectory, and he agreed. We left this 
house shortly before nine o'clock. On 
the way Mr Burton stumbled and twisted 
his ankle, so he returned to the house, 
and I went on alone. Before I got to 
the Rectory the storm burst, and it was 
so violent that I grew afraid. I was 
taking a path through the woods, and 
got under a tree for shelter. As I was 
nearer the Manor than the Rectory I 
determined to return, and explain to 
Captain Burton in the morning. It was 
ten o'clock when I got back, soaking and 
tired out. I was waiting a long time under 
the trees for the rain to go off, and so it 
was late when I returned. Then I went to 
bed, but was a'wakened about midnight 
by the news of my husband's murder.' 

' And Mr Burton ? ' 

' He did not get back until ten either 
— in fact, we arrived almost at the same 
time, for his foot became so painful that 
he could walk only with great difficulty. 
He also was caught in the storm.' 

' Oh ! ' said the inspector again, ' I 
should like to see Mr Burton.' 

'Certainly.' Lady Jenny rose. 'Is 
there anything else you would like to 
ask me ? ' 

' Not at present, my lady. I will ex- 
amine your household first.' 

As Wilfred's foot was sprained, the 
inspector was shown into the morning- 
room. It was a case of the mountain 
coming to Mahomet — Mr Woke being 
a veritable mountain of official dignity. 



A Strange Piece of Evidence 



J 9 



He looked curiously at the pale young 
man lying on the sofa, and seeing he was 
in pain, examined him as gingerly as 
possible. Wilfred was quite ready to give 
an account of his movements, although 
he expressed some surprise that such in- 
formation should be required. 

' Surely you don't suspect me of com- 
plicity in this dastardly crime, Mr In- 
spector ? ' 

' Dear me, no, certainly not,' replied 
the jovial Woke, rubbing his hands, ' but 
I am examining the whole household. 
It is wonderful what evidence may be 
gathered by such means, Indeed, I have 
got some evidence already. It may bear 
on the case, or it may not.' 

' What is it ? ' asked Wilfred, listlessly, 
and winced as his foot gave a twinge. 

'I'll tell you later, sir. First relate 
your movements, please, last night.' 

Young Burton gave an account coin- 
ciding with that of Lady Jenny. 'My 
foot must have got twisted,' he said, 'for 
it grew very painful, and the ankle is a 
good deal swollen. Otherwise I should 
not have let Lady Jenny go on alone ; but 
she was anxious to see my brother and 
insisted on going. It was a few minutes 
past nine when she left me. I tried to 
walk, but could not. Then the rain came 
on, and I dragged myself under a tree. 
I got soaked through, and thinking I 
should probably catch a severe chill — I 
am not strong, Mr Woke — I set my teeth 
to it and hobbled home. I found a stake, 
which I used as a crutch ; but the pain 
was so great that I could only walk very 
slowly. No one was about who could 
help me — it was so late. I got home 
after ten, and the butler helped me in. 
Then I went to bed, and put cold water 
bandages on my foot. It is easier now.' 

' You should get the doctor to see it, 
Mr Burton.' 

'The doctor has been too busy ex- 
amining poor Malet's body,' said Wilfred. 
' I shall see him soon.' 

' Have you any idea who murdered Mr 
Malet, sir?' 

' Great heavens, no ! The whole case 
is 1 a mystery to mt.-.' 

' Mr Malet had many enemies, I be- 
lieve.' 

' He said he had, but I think he spoke 
generally rather than of any particular 



person or persons. So fir as I know he 
had no enemy who specially desired his 
death.' 

The inspector looked grave and a 
trifle ill at ease. ' Mr Burton,' he said at 
length, ' are you aware that your brother 
was on bad terms with Mr Malet ? ' 

' They were not friendly,' admitted 
Wilfred, looking anxious. ' There was a 
disagreement about my brother's marriage. 
Bat, come now, my brother hasn't any- 
thing to do with the affair?' 

' Well,' said Woke, pinching his chubby 
chin, ' it's just this way, sir. I have been 
making inquiries, and I find that your 
brother and the deceased had a violent 
quarrel yesterday afternoon in this house.' 

' I know that, but a quarrel does not 
mean murder. Confound it, sir, I won't 
listen to your insinuations.' 

Mr Woke went on coolly and deliber- 
ately. ' I questioned Roberts, the butler,' 
he said, 'and the man admitted that 
Captain Burton had used threatening 
language.' 

' How did Roberts know ? ' 

' He overheard Captain Burton at the 
open door of the library. He spoke loud 
enough for the whole house to hear, so 
Roberts says, but there happened to be 
nobody else about.' 

'Go on,' cried Wilfred, flushed and 
impatient. 'Let me hear what my 
brother said.' 

' He called Mr Malet a swindler, and 
said he would make it hot for him.' 

Wilfred smiled derisively. ' Really ! 
And on such words, used in a moment 
of anger, you would accuse my brother 
of a brutal crime ? ' 

' I don't accuse him, sir,' retorted 
Woke, hotly ; ' but I should like an ex- 
planation of his words.' 

' I daresay he will furnish you with one.' 
Wilfred forgot his sprained ankle now, 
and sat up filled with indignation. ' And 
let me tell you, Mr Woke,' he went on, 
' the explanation will be such as to clear 
my brother wholly from all suspicion. 
He is the best fellow in the world, and I 
would as soon believe myself guilty of 
this thing as him. Suspect whom you 
please, but not my brother.' 

But the phlegmatic officer was quite 
unmoved by this outburst. 'Natural 
enough,' he said. 'Oh, I don't blame 



20 



A Traitor in London 



you for standing up for the Captain, sir ; 
and I daresay, for that matter, he may be 
able to furnish an alibi, as he was at the 
Rectory waiting for her ladyship. All 
the same, I am bound to inquire further 
into this quarrel. I don't accuse him, 
mind ' — Mr Woke shook his forefinger — 
' but I can't help having my suspicions.' 
He paused and asked suddenly, ' Who is 
Miss Scarse, sir ? ' 

'The daughter of Mr Scarse, M.P., 
and the lady to whom my brother is en- 
gaged to be married. Mr Malet dis- 
approved of the marriage. That was the 
reason he and Captain Burton quarrelled.' 

'Scarse — Scarse,' repeated the inspec- 
tor, rising. 'I've heard of him. He's 
the gentleman that's always writing and 
talking tall about the Boers, isn't he?' 

' I believe he is what is called a Little 
Englander.' 

'An unpopular part at present, Mr 
Burton. I am an Imperialist myself. 
H'm ! so Miss Scarse is engaged to 
Captain Burton, is she? She called 
here at nine last night and asked for 
Lady Jenny, Roberts tells me.' 

' Perhaps you'll accuse her of the mur- 
der next ! ' said Wilfred, contemptuously. 

'I accuse no one as yet, sir. But I 
must have my facts quite clear, and I go 
to get them. Good day, sir,' and Mr 
Woke departed to call in at 'The 
Chequers,' with Captain Burton still the 
central figure in his mind. 

But Harold was not at the inn. Late 
in the morning he had called at the 
cottage to see Brenda, and discuss with 
her the very stirring events of the previous 
night. She received him in the drawing- 
room, and, thankful to find that he was 
alive and well, embraced him more 
than ever affectionately. The poor girl 
looked ill and pale, for all this trouble 
had shaken her nerves more than she 
cared to confess. And in truth Harold 
himself did not feel much better, although 
he showed it less markedly. Mr Scarse 
being shut up as usual in his study, they 
had the room to themselves. Van 
Zwieten had gone out. 

' I had no chance, dear, of speaking to 
you last night,' said Harold. 'Tell me 
how you came to hear about this mur- 
der ? ' 

' Harold, dear, I saw it committed ! ' 



The man turned pale. 'You saw it 
committed?' he repeated. 'Why, Brenda, 
who did it ? ' 

' I don't know. I had gone to the 
Manor to see Lady Jenny. I thought 
she might be able to help you about this 
money; and on my way home I was 
caught in a storm. In a vivid flash of 
lightning I saw Mr Malet sheltering 
under a tree. I did not know then that 
it was Mr Malet. After that I heard a 
cry, and then a shot. I ran forward, and 
stumbled over the body. Then I fainted, 
I think, but as soon as I was able I made 
my way home. It was only when I met 
you that I knew that Mr Malet was the 
victim. Oh, Harold, dearest, I thought 
all the time it was you ! ' 

'What on earth put such an idea as 
that into your head ? ' he asked in amaze- 
ment. 

' I don't know. Van Zwieten had told 
me he hated you, and I am afraid of 
Van Zwieten. He told me he went to 
see you at the inn, and I thought you 
might have quarrelled, and — ' She threw 
out her hands. ' Oh, dearest, it is only be- 
cause you are so much to me, I suppose, 
that I thought it must be you. Oh, Har- 
old, the thought nearly drove me mad.' 

' But why did Van Zwieten want to see 
me?' 

' To insist that you should give me up.' 

'Give you up? Confound nis Dutch 
impertinence ! ' said Harold, angrily. 

' Dearest, I am afraid of that man,' said 
Brenda, clinging to him. 'Yes, terribly 
afraid. He will not leave me alone. 
He speaks as though he were perfectly 
certain I should have to marry him.' 

' In that case, the most effectual 
method of putting an end to his pre- 
sumption will be for you to marry me, 
dear, and that at once. Remember the 
twenty thousand pounds come to me 
now ! ' 

' Harold ! — the money is yours ? But 
how?' 

' Malet's control of the fund died with 
him. Now that he is dead, nothing can 
prevent my getting it. We can be married 
straight away, dear.' 

' We should have done that in any 
case, Harold. But now — Oh, do let 
us go to London at once ; for, until we 
are really married, I shall not be able to 



Van Zwieten shows his Teeth 



21 



shake off my fear of this man. I know I 
sha'n't.' 

' Nonense, Brenda ! He can be 
nothing to you. Why, you told me you 
detested the man.' 

' So I do. I loathe him. But he is so 
determined and wicked, and so unscrupu- 
lous, that somehow I fear him, I — ' 

' Is he here now ? ' 

' Yes ; but I believe he goes this after- 
noon. He may meet us in London, 
Harold, and give us trouble there. 
Believe me, he is dangerous.' 

' Give me the legal right to protect you, 
Brenda,' said Harold, ' and you need not 
fear Van Zwieten. He is a brute. I don't 
know how your father can tolerate him.' 

' Simply because Mr van Zwieten is 
going out to the Transvaal Government, 
and father has taken up the Boer cause.' 

' If Kruger goes on as he is doing, 
there won't be any Transvaal Government 
at all in a few months. Don't you bother 
about Van Zwieten, dear. As soon as 
poor Malet is buried I shall go up to 
London and see about the money.' 

' There will be an inquest, I suppose.' 

'Of course. The police are at the 
Manor now. I went over to offer my 
services to Jenny, but she did not want 
me, and sent out to say so. Poor little 
woman ! I don't see how she's going to 
manage matters. I hope she'll have 
enough to live on.' 

' Why ! I thought Mr Malet was rich ! ' 

' He was. But he spent money freely, 
and gambled a good deal' Harold looked 
uneasy. 'I tell you what, Brenda, I 
sha'n't be easy in my mind until I know 
that my money and Wilfred's is safe. 
Malet had supreme control over it, and 
for all I know he may have made ducks 
and drakes with it.' 

' Well, if he has, we'll have to do with- 
out it, that's all,' replied the girl. ' By 
the way, dear, why didn't you go to town 
last night as we arranged ? ' 

' I changed my mind. It struck me 
that Jenny might manage to succeed with 
Malet where I had failed. I didn't go up 
to the house, because 1 didn't want to 
meet him ; so I sent her a note asking 
her to come to the Rectory. You know 
Mr Slocum is one of my oldest friends.' 

' How strange,' said Brenda, wonder- 
ingly. ' I had exactly the same idea ; 



that was why I went to the Manor last 
night. When I got there they told me 
Lady Jenny had gone to the Rectory.' 

' I didn't see her,' said Harold, grimly. 
' I waited till nine, and as she hadn't 
turned up then, I went back to the inn. 
There, later on, I heard of the murder, 
and went to look at the body. Although 
we had quarrelled, I felt sorry for the poor 
devil when I heard of his violent death.' 

'Poor Mr Malet,' sighed Brenda; 'I 
wonder who killed him, and why ? ' 

'Well, I can't say why, dear, but I 
have an idea who it was that shot him.' 

'Who? Who?' 

' That man I mistook for your father.' 

Brenda turned pale, remembering her 
father's agitation. 

' Impossible ! Why do you think so ? ' 

' I examined the body first, before the 
others came up. I found the right hand 
was clenched, and by the light of the 
lantern. I opened it. It was grasping a 
scrap of crape ! ' 

' A scrap of crape ! But what has — ' 
Brenda's voice died in her throat. 

' Don't you remember my description ? 
That old man wore a crape scarf ! ' 



CHAPTER V 

VAN ZWIETEN SHOWS HIS TEETH 

This unexpected piece of evidence caused 
Brenda no little uneasiness. She reflected 
that the man with the crape scarf had so 
closely resembled her father as to be 
mistaken for him, and then she re- 
membered how her father had refused 
to give any information concerning thk 
double of his. There was also the fact 
of his avowed hatred of Malet. Do what 
she would, she could not rid herself of 
the idea that through this third person, 
so like himself, her father was in some 
way connected with the murder. And 
little as she loved him, the thought of it 
shocked and terrified her. She told 
Harold what had passed between them 
in the study, and unbosomed herself of 
her suspicions to him. In reply, he 
asked her a few straightforward questions. 
' Did your father refuse to speak of 
this man, Brenda? ' 



22 



A Traitor in London 



'Absolutely. He sent me out of the 
room.' 

' He was uneasy ? ' 

' More than uneasy,' said the girl, with 
emphasis; 'he was terrified. There is 
a great mystery in all this, Harold. In 
some way my father is connected with 
this man. For all I know, he may be a 
relative. I am very ignorant of my 
family history.' 

' H'm ! Have you seen your father 
this morning?' 

' No. He did not come to breakfast, 
and I did not go to his study, knowing 
that he dislikes to be disturbed.' 

' Well, we must go to his study now,' 
said Harold, rising, ' for I am sure that 
the man with the crape scarf killed Malet, 
and your father may be able to throw 
some light on the subject' 

' Harold, you don't think my father — ' 

' Who can tell ? Brenda, we must face 
the facts, and see him. In any case I 
am the only person who knows about 
this scrap of crape, and I shall keep the 
information to myself. Now, come along, 
dear, and let's hunt him up.' 

When they reached the study they 
found it empty. On the table lay a note 
for Brenda in her father's handwriting. 
It informed her very curtly that he had 
gone up to London for the day and 
would return that same evening. Harold 
looked grave, and Brenda was perplexed. 
It was so unexpected. Mr Scarse seemed 
to be doing all he could to heap suspicion 
on his own head. 

' Does he usually go off in this sudden 
fashion ? ' asked Captain Burton. 

' Yes, and no. Sometimes he tells me, 
sometimes he leaves a note. After all, 
Harold, we may be altogether mistaken. 
Perhaps father knows nothing at all 
about it.' 

'I hope so, Brenda. But from what 
you say he certainly knows this man, and 
it is strange there should be such a strik- 
ing resemblance between them. The 
scrap of crape might easily have been 
torn off the scarf in the struggle.' 

'But there was no struggle, 'said Brenda, 
eagerly. 'I saw Mr Malet for one 
moment when the lightning flashed ; the 
next I heard a cry, and it was followed at 
once by a shot. There was no time for 
a struggle.' 



' You heard the cry first, and then th * 
shot ? ' 

' Yes. The shot must have killed the 
poor man at once. He did not cry again.' 

Harold reflected. ' I saw Dr Lincoln 
this morning at the Manor,' he said, 
slowly. ' He deduces from the blackened 
skin and singed hair that the shot must 
have been fired at close quarters. Now, 
if the murderer saw Malet by that light- 
ning flash, and was close at hand, he no 
doubt sprang forward and clutched the 
poor devil's arm while he placed the 
muzzle of the weapon at his temple. In 
that case Malet would utter a cry and the 
next moment drop dead. In his agony 
he might have gripped at the crape scarf, 
and have torn off the piece I found 
clenched in his hand.' 

'That is all purely hypothetical,' said 
Brenda, fighting against her doubts. 

' I know it is. But it seems to me the 
only way to account for your hearing the 
cry first, and for this piece of crape being 
in the hand of the corpse. Depend upon 
it, Brenda, your father can throw some 
light on the subject. Well, as he's gone 
to town, there's nothing for it but to wait 
till he comes back. Meanwhile I won't 
say anything about the piece of crape to 
anyone.' 

' And what are you going to do now ? ' 
she asked, as he moved towards the study 
door. 

' Return to the inn. I should like to 
know if anyone else saw this stranger, 
and if they mistook him, as I did, for 
your father.' 

'Harold, Harold, do be careful,' im- 
plored Brenda ; ' we may be misjudging 
father altogether, dear. Don't, I beg of 
you, get him into any trouble.' 

' Oa the contrary, dear, my object is to 
get him out of trouble. If I don't 
succeed in arriving at some explanation 
of this queer confusion of identities the 
police may take it up. Then it would 
be dangerous. Good-bye, dear ; I shall 
be back shortly.' 

Brenda waved her hand as he left her, 
and returned to the study. She was 
filled with ominous foreboding, and 
trembled at the thought of possible com- 
plicity on the part of her father. His 
pronounced hatred of Malet, his agitation 
at the mention of the stranger, the odd 



Van Zwieten shows his Teeth 



23 



idea of the crape scarf worn by the 
supposed criminal, and the morsel of it 
in the dead man's hand — these things 
collectively formed a mystery which 
Brenda could not fathom. 

She looked again at the note which 
intimated that her father had gone to 
town, and from the straggling, scratching 
character of the handwriting she gathered 
that he must have been greatly agitated 
when he wrote it. Afterwards she went 
to the kitchen, and skilfully questioned 
Mrs Daw and Tilda about their master's 
departure. Both declared that he had 
said nothing to them about it. It seemed 
likely, then, that he had made up his 
mind on a sudden impulse and gone off 
in a hurry. 

Brenda wondered vainly what it could 
all mean, and then rebuked herself 
severely for her suspicions. After all, her 
father would no doubt be able to give 
good reason for his hurried departure when 
he returned ; the surrounding circum- 
stances, strange as they were, might prove 
to be all that was natural and obvious in 
the light of what he would have to say. 

The dawn had brought wisdom to Mrs 
Daw and the housemaid too, for they no 
longer spoke of giving notice. They 
were chattering like parrots about the 
murder, many exaggerated and wholly 
imaginary details of which had been 
supplied by butcher, baker and milkman. 
But Brenda learned that as yet no one 
was definitely suspected of the crime, 
and that the villagers were hopelessly 
bewildered at its committal. 

About the stranger no word was said ; 
and somewhat relieved in her mind, 
Brenda gave her orders for the day, and 
returned to the study. She sat down 
before the fire — which was lighted, as 
usual, in spite of the summer warmth — 
and gave herself up to thoughts of 
Harold. These were pleasant enough, 
but occasionally there wou:d come the 
recollection of Van Zwieten and his calm 
insistence that she should be his wife. 
Then she shuddered, for the man fasci- 
nated her as a serpent fascinates a bird. 
There were moments when it came upon 
her that he might get his way in spite of 
her repulsion. 

Idly lo king into the fire, she noticed 
a fine white ash under the grate, disposed 



in a regular line. At first she took no 
heed of it, but presently she became 
aware that this was no coal debris, and 
her eye travelled along the line until she 
found an unbumt piece of the material, 
the remainder of which was ash. Grow- 
ing pale, she bent down and picked up a 
tiny piece of crape. Undoubtedly it was 
crape — there was enough saved from the 
burning to swear by. Brenda turned 
faint ; from the long narrow outline of 
the white ash, from the scrap of material 
she held in her hand, it was certain that 
her father had flung a crape scarf under 
the grate, and had set fire to it. And s';e 
guessed that the scarf was the one worn by 
the stranger — the scarf from which the 
morsel in Harold's possession, had been 
torn. Motionless and terrified she pon- 
dered over the meaning of thisdtstruction. 

Before she could come to any con- 
clusion, there was a shadow thrown across 
the floor, and Brenda, her nerves shaken, 
jumped up with a light scream to see Van 
Zwieten step into the room through the 
French window. He looked unusually 
well pleased with himself, and smiled 
blandly when he saw her. In fact, she 
detected an exulting expression in his 
blue eyes, which vaguely terrified her. 
With the instinct to conceal the discovery 
of the burnt scarf, she thrust the scrap 
into her pocket, and turned to welcome 
Van Zwieten with a smile. 

He looked at the fire, at her action, 
and seemed to connect the two. But he 
said nothing. No doubt he thought she 
had been about to burn something, and 
that he had interrupted her. 

' Aha, Miss Scarse,' he said politely, 
' I have been walking in the orchards to 
have a look at the spot where I murdered 
that man.' 

Brenda was annoyed at his satire, and 
rather foolishly showed her annoyance. 

'You should make allowance for my 
state of mind last night,' she said, irritably. 
' I spoke without thinking. Besides, I 
accused you of killing Harold, not poor 
Mr Malet.' 

' Quite so. But you might as well say 
I killed the one as the other. Pardon 
me, I will say no more. I have been to 
the place where the poor man was mur- 
dered, and I have made discoveries. Ah, 
you English, you have no eyes ! Dozens 



24- 



A Traitor in London 



of people have been round this morning, 
but they have seen nothing. I have 
seen much.' 

' What have you seen — what have you 
discovered ? ' asked Brenda, anxiously. 

Van Zwieten clicked his heels together 
in foreign fashion, and bowed. 'Miss 
Scarse, I am a wise man,' he said, smiling; 
' wise men never talk. But if you will be 
wise also, and give me the right to tell 
you what I know, why then — ' 

' How can I give you the right ? ' 

' By accepting me as your future hus- 
band.' 

'No, a thousand times, no. I am 
engaged to Captain Burton.' 

'Ah, Captain Burton! I quite forgot 
that young gentleman. I have something 
to say to him. He is, no doubt, still at 
his hotel. I will call' 

' If your object is to make him give me 
up, you may save yourself the trouble of 
calling,' said Brenda, quietly. ' We are 
engaged, and nothing you can say or do 
can break our engagement' 

'Ah ! I think otherwise.' 

' Mr van Zwieten, will you understand 
once and for all that I refuse to have 
anything to do with you. I refuse to 
marry you.' 

Van Zwieten shook his head. ' I 
cannot accept your refusal. I have made 
up my mind that you shall marry me, 
and marry me you must. I have a strong 
will, Miss Scarse.' 

'I also, and so has Captain Burton. 
You can't bully me into being your slave.' 

'Pardon me, I should be the slave,' 
said the Dutchman, blandly. ' As for 
Captain Burton, poof! I will sweep him 
from my path. When he is in South 
Africa, I shall be there also.' 

' He is not going to South Africa.' 

' Oh, yes, I think so. He is a soldier, 
and your soldiers will have much to do 
in South Africa shortly.' 

' Mr van Zwieten, I believe you are a 
Boer spy.' 

' Indeed ! Why do you believe so ? ' 

' You seem to be so certain of the war. 
You are going out to the Transvaal — ' 

' I am. You too, Miss Scarse — as my 
wife. Ah, do not look angry. You 
must accept the inevitable with a good 
grace. As to my being a spy, there is no 
need for me to act so low a part as that. 



I think there will be war because I read 
the sign of the times. Europe is with us — ' 

' Did your friend Dr Leyds tell you so?' 
she asked scornfully. 

' Perhaps. But this is idle talk. I am 
not what you think me. When the time 
comes you will know — what I intend you 
to know. So sure am I that you will be 
my wife, that I am content to return to 
London this day and leave you with 
Captain Burton.' 

' The sooner you go the better pleased 
I shall be.' 

' Ach ! What English hospitality ! 
How charmingly said ! ' 

Brenda turned on him with tears of 
rage in her eyes. 'You force me to be 
rude,' she said, almost breaking down in 
the face of this persistence. 'I have 
never been spoken to as you speak to 
me. An English gentleman can take 
"no "for an answer.' 

'But I love you too much to accept 
such an answer.' 

' If you loved me, you would not worry 
me so. Please go, Mr van Zwieten. Oh ! 
I wish my father were here to protect 
me ! ' cried poor Brenda, keeping back 
her tears with difficulty. 

'Call him, Miss Scarse. He has not 
gone out today, has he ? ' 

' He has gone to London.' 

Clever and self-possessed as Van 
Zwieten was, this intelligence discon- 
certed him. He started and frowned. 
' To London ! ' he repeated. ' He was 
here a couple of hours ago.' 

Brenda handed him the note left by 
her father, and turned away. ' You can 
see for yourself. I suppose you will go 
after luncheon.' 

Van Zwieten read the note and frowned 
again. 'Yes, I will go after luncheon,' 
he said. 'In the meantime I will see 
Captain Burton, I think ; oh, yes, I 
think I shall come to terms with that 
young gentleman. Till luncheon, Miss 
Scarse,' and, bowing with a mocking 
smile, he stepped out of the window, 
leaving Brenda puzzled and uneasy. 

Meanwhile, Harold was talking with 
Inspector Woke at the inn. He had 
found that official waiting for him on his 
return from the cottage, and had at once 
consented to his request for a private con- 
versation. He had no idea that Woke 



Van Zweiten shows his Teeth 



25 



suspected him in any way, and answered 
his questions with the utmost frankness. 

' I went to the Rectory last night to 
see Air Slocum, who is an old friend of 
mine,' he said, ' and left here about eight 
o'clock. It was shortly after nine when 
I returned.' 

'At what time did you arrive here?' 
asked Woke, watching his companion's 
face. 

' About ten o'clock.' 

' Oh ! and you left the Rectory at nine. 
Did it take you an hour to walk a quarter 
of a mile ? ' 

Captain Burton stared, and his dark 
face flushed. ' I don't know why you 
wish me to answer you so precisely,' he 
said, haughtily ; ' but it so happened that 
I was caught in the storm, and stood 
under a tree for some time.' 

'The storm again,' murmured Woke, 
rubbing his chin. 'Lady Jenny Malet 
and your brother were both caught in 
the storm? 

'I know that,' retorted Burton, im- 
patiently. 'Lady Jenny was coming to 
the Rectory to see me on business. This 
morning I learned that she was caught in 
the storm and turned back. My brother 
sprained his foot. I know all this. 
Well?' 

'Mr Malet was murdered at half-past 
nine.' 

' So the doctor told me. Well ? ' 

Harold was so unsuspicious that the 
inspector felt uncomfortable, and did not 
know very well how to put his doubts into 
words. ' Did you see Mr Malet last 
night ? ' he asked. 

' No, I did not.' 

' Oh ! If you had, would you have 
spoken to him ? ' 

' What the devil do you mean ? ' asked 
Captain Burton, sharply. 

'Only this. That I have been in- 
formed at the Manor — by Roberts the 
butler, if you want to know — that you 
and Mr Malet had a quarrel yesterday.' 

' We had, over family business. That 
has nothing to do with you.' 

' I'm not so sure about that,' said 
Woke, drily. 'You used threats. You 
said you would make it hot for him.' 

Captain Burton jumped up with 
clenched fists. 'Are you trying to make 
out that I murdered Malet ?' he asked 



savagely. ' If so, put your meaning more 
clearly, and I shall know how to defend 
myself.' 

' I don't say you murdered him,' pro- 
tested Woke, soothingly ; ' but you 
quarrelled with him, you threatened him, 
and you were out of doors between nine 
and ten, during which time he was killed. 
The position is suspicious — don't be 
angry, Captain Burton, I am only doing 
my duty. Of course you can prove an 
alibi.'' 

' I can give you my word that I did 
not see Malet last night. I saw his body 
after I had been informed of his murder. 
As to an alibi, no one saw me after I left 
the Rectory, so far as I know. I stood 
under a tree for a time ; then I walked 
round by Mr Scarse's cottage.' 

' Had you any particular reason to do 
so?' 

Captain Burton flushed and bit his lip. 
' I could refuse to answer that question,' 
he said at length; 'but as you suspect 
me I will be as candid as possible. I am 
engaged to Miss Scarse, and I went round 
with the intention of seeing her on the 
same matter about which I went to the 
Rectory. However, I concluded it was 
too late, so I returned here.' 

' You answer frankly, Captain Burton,' 
said Woke rather disconsolately, ' and I 
say again, I don't accuse you of the 
crime.' 

Harold bowed ironically. ' Have you 
any idea who committed it ? ' 

' No,' replied Burton, keeping his own 
counsel, ' I have not.' 

Woke rose to go. Then he looked at 
Harold and hesitated. Finally he spoke 
in a confidential tone. ' Do you know if 
Mr Scarse is mad?' was his strange 
question. 

Burton suppressed a smile. ' Not 
that I know of,' he replied wonderingly. 
'Why?' 

'Because he was seen in the village 
yesterday afternoon with a yard or two 
of crape around his neck — crape, Captain 
Burton — a strange material for a scarf ! ' 

' Very strange,' replied Burton, keeping 
strict guard on his tongue. He saw that 
other people besides himself had mistaken 
the stranger for Scarse ; but he did not 
correct the inspector lest he might say 
too much. For Brenda's sake it would 



26 



A Traitor in London 



not do for that subject to be gone into 
too minutely. ' You had better see Mr 
Scarse yourself about the matter,' said he 
at length ; ' he has gone up to town, but 
may return this evening.' 

Woke nodded and withdrew. He had 
not gained much by his conversation. 
Harold was evidently guiltless ; or, at all 
events, there seemed to be no evidence 
to connect him with the crime. The poor 
inspector, accustomed to open murders of 
the poker or hatchet order, was wholly at 
a loss how to deal with the intricate 
criminal problem presented to him. He 
could not find the weapon with which the 
crime had been committed ; he could gain 
no tangible intelligence likely to fasten 
the crime on to any one person. At last, 
utterly perplexed, he took himself off. 

Harold watched him go with some sense 
of relief. He saw that the case, handled 
by a man of such inexperience and meagre 
intelligence, would come to nothing, and 
for Brenda's sake he was glad. He could 
not help thinking that Scarse was in some 
way connected with the matter. Much 
would depend upon the explanation he 
had to give regarding his ' double.' Until 
that mystery was solved, nothing could 
be done. 

He was still pondering over the pros 
and cons of it all when he was interrupted 
by the waiter with the intelligence that 
Mr van Zwieten wished to see him. 
Wondering what his rival could have to 
say to him, he directed that be should be 
shown in. When Van Zwieten appeared, 
Harold received him coldly. He did not 
offer to shake hands. 

' You wish to see me ? ' was all he said. 

' Ach, yes ! ' replied Van Zwieten, with 
a beaming smile. 'You will let me sit 
down.' He threw himself lightly on the 
sofa. 'Thank you. Yes, Captain Burton, 
I have come to see you about a lady.' 

' I know whom you mean,' said Harold, 
his voice tremulous with rage, 'and I 
must ask you to leave that lady's name 
unspoken. I refuse to discuss the matter 
you have come about.' 

' It will be better for you to agree,' said 
Van Zwieten, with a steely gleam of his 
blue eyes. ' I come to see you about 
more than Miss Scarse.' 

Harold sat down suddenly. It flashed 
across him that the Dutchman knew 



something connected with the crime, so 
significantly did he speak. Resolved to 
know the worst, he decided to let him 
have his say, although he winced at the 
idea of Brenda's name on the lips of the 
man, However, there was no help for 
it. The position was dangerous, and this 
was not the time for squeamishness. 

' Say what you have to say and go then,' 
he said, holding himself in hand. 

' I can say that in a few words,' said 
Van Zwieten ; ' you are engaged to be 
married to Miss Scarse.' 

'Yes,' assented Burton, breathing 
quickly. 

' Know then that I love her, Captain 
Burton, and I wish to marry her.' 

' Miss Scarse has consented to marry 
me. You have — oh, damn you, get out, 
or I'll kick you ! How dare you talk 
about Miss Scarse — about my private 
affairs ? ' 

The young man was on his feet, furious 
with rage. It wanted little to make him 
hurl himself on Van Zwieten ; but the 
Dutchman never flinched, never ceased 
to smile. ' You must give up Miss Scarse 
to me ! ' 

' I'll see you at the devil first,' was the 
fierce reply. 

' In that case I must talk of your private 
affairs.' 

' You have done so — you are doing so.' 

'Not yet. But now — Captain Burton, 
I hold you in the hollow of my hand ' 

'What do you mean?' asked the 
startled Harold. 

Van Zwieten bent forward and spoke 
low for a few moments. When he had 
finished, Captain Burton's face was grey 
and drawn and terror-stricken. 

The Dutchman continued to smile. 



CHAPTER VI 

WHAT MR SCARSE ADMITTED 

For the next week Brenda lived in a state 
of bewilderment. Everything seemed to 
go wrong. Her father did not return, 
but wrote that his things were to be sent 
on to London, and that Brenda herself 
was to leave the cottage in charge of Mrs 
Daw, and come up in a fortnight's time. 
Van Zwieten bowed himself out of 



What Mr Scarse admitted 



27 



Chippingholt without having told her of 
his interview with Harold. With his 
usual cunning, he had left Harold him- 
self to do that ; but Harold, leaving a 
message for Brenda that he was suddenly 
recalled to his regimental duties, had him- 
self left by a later train, without either 
explanation or word of farewell. 

Brenda was hopelessly at a loss to 
understand her lover's action, and in her 
despair sought Lady Jenny. 

It was a week after the inquest, and 
the two women were seated in Lady 
Jenny's boudoir, a pleasant rose-hued 
room which looked out on to a Dutch 
garden. The usual verdict of wilful 
murder against some person or persons 
unknown had been brought in by the 
usual opaque country jury, directed by a 
not over-intelligent coroner. Gilbert 
Malet's bcdy had been laid away in the 
family vault, and Lady Jenny was utilising 
for her husband the mourning she had 
worn for her father. 

Brenda was paying her now a visit of 
condolence ; but Lady Jenny showed 
clearly by her manner and curt speech 
that she stood in no need of sympathy. 
It was amazing to see the change that 
had taken place in her since her husband's 
death. Formerly she had been a gay, 
frivolous little woman, with ever a smile 
on her face; now Brenda found her a 
small image of stone, as hard, and every 
whit as cold. She could scarcely believe 
it was the same woman. 

Finding that her sympathetic refer- 
ences to the dead man were received 
with coldness, Brenda tactfully changed 
the conversation. She mentioned her 
own anxiety about Harold's abrupt de- 
parture, and found Lady Jenny quite 
ready to talk on that subject. She loved 
Brenda and admired Harold, and wished 
to see them married. Consequently she 
was only too glad to smooth down 
Brenda's feathers, which were a good deal 
ruffled by her lover's strange behaviour. 

' My dear, you know a soldier's time is 
not his own,' she said. ' I expect Harold 
got a telegram, and had just time to pack 
and catch the first train.' 

' He should have sent for me,' said 
Brenda ; ' I should have seen him off at 
the station.' 

" Veil, I've no doubt he will explain his 



reasons when you meet in town. You 
go there next week, and Harold is only 
at Aldershot. He has written to you ? ' 

'Several times, and always fondly. 
But he has never explained his leaving 
without seeing me. It's no good, Lady 
Jenny ; I confess I am angry. Yet he 
may have avoided seeing me on account 
of the murder.' 

Lady Jenny looked up sharply. ' Why 
should he ? ' 

Brenda hesitated. She was thinking 
of Harold's suspicions regarding her 
father, and did not want to tell them to 
the dead man's widow. For the moment 
she had forgotten to whom she was speak- 
ing. But, having committed herself so 
far, she was obliged to get out of the 
difficulty as best she could. 

'You know Inspector Woke suspected 
Harold?' she said, nervously avoiding 
Lady Jenny's sharp black eyes ; ' he 
said — ' 

' I know — I know. Woke told me of 
his suspicions. He's a fool — to suspect 
Harold of killing Gilbert just because 
they had a few words is ridiculous, and 
I told him so. Nobody will ever know 
who killed Gilbert.' 

'You speak very confidently,' said 
Brenda, amazed at her hard tone. 

' Because I feel confident,' retorted the 
other. ' There is not a scrap of evidence 
against anyone. All that could be said 
was said at the inquest. Woke and his 
police have been doing their best to get 
at the truth, and have failed. The 
revolver was not found ; no one knew why 
Gilbert went out walking on that night, or 
whom he met, and — oh, the whole thing 
is over and done with. It is only one 
more of the many undiscovered crimes.' 

' Do you suspect anyone ? ' 

' Not a soul. Why should I ? Gilbert 
had many enemies — so he said — but I 
don't know any of them, and I don't 
suppose any one of them would have 
gone the length of murder.' 

' The police here are such sillies,' put 
in Brenda. ' Why don't you get a clever 
detective down from London ? ' 

' Because I think the case is hopeless, 
my dear,' said the widow, gloomily, ' and 
because it would cost a great deal too 
much money. I have not yet gone into 
the affairs of the estate, but I am afraid 



28 



A Traitor in London 



I shall not be over well off. Gilbert would 
play, and I suppose I was extravagant. 
We lived far beyond our means. This 
place is mortgaged heavily.' 

' What — the Manor ? ' asked Brenda, 
startled. 

'Yes, all our property is mortgaged. 
I expect I shall be left with nothing but 
the ten thousand pounds for which 
Gilbert's life was insured. Fortunately 
it was settled on me at the time of our 
marriage, so his creditors can't touch it. 
I hate being poor;' cried Lady Jenny, 
viciously; 'and, so far as I can see, I 
shall be — very poor.' 

' I had no idea things were so bad.' 

' Nor had I until six months ago, when 
Gilbert told me. We have lived from hand 
to mouth since then. All Gilbert's efforts 
have been directed to staving off ruin.' 

Brenda's heart sank within her. ' What 
about Harold's money ? ' 

' Oh, Harold and Wilfred are all right,' 
said Lady Jenny, hastily ; ' at least, I sup- 
pose so. Gilbert always said that he took 
good care of their money, and I think he 
did. He was not the man to place him- 
self within reach of the law by appro- 
priating trust monies — at least, I can't 
believe he would do such a thing. But 
next week the whole matter will be gone 
into. Then I suppose you and Harold 
will get married.' 

' Of course. In any case — money or 
no money — we shall be married.' 

' Oh, I don't know. It's absurd marry- 
ing on nothing. Gilbert was well off when 
I became his wife, or I shouldn't have 
married him ; had I known he was a 
gambler, I should have refused him. He 
made a nice mess of his life.' 

' I thought you loved him.' 

' I did, a deal better than he deserved,' 
said Lady Jenny, bitterly. ' But — but — 
oh, what is the use of talking ! He was 
a bad man — another woman — his fault — 
and I — my dear, don't you trust Harold. 
All men are bad.' 

'I always understood Mr Malet was 
devoted to you.' 

' So did I — until I found him out. It 
came about in the strangest way — the dis- 
covery, I mean.' Lady Jenny paused, as 
though considering whether to speak out 
or not. Finally she decided to hold her 
tongue. ' But then these things concern 



only myself,' said she, abruptly. ' He 
deceived me — I was jealous — that is all 
you need know. But I cannot say that I 
sorrow for him now that he is dead.' 

' Oh, how can you speak so ? ' 

' Because I am a woman, and jealous. 
When Harold deceives you, Brenda, you 
will feel as I do — feel that you could kill 
him with your own hand.' Lady Jenny 
looked suddenly at the girl's blonde 
beauty. ' But no ! you are a cold Saxon 
girl, with little such spirit in you. I — my 
father was Irish, my mother Italian, and 
I have in me all the fire of Celt and Latin. 
It was well for Gilbert that he died when 
he did,' she said between her teeth ; ' I 
don't know what I should have done ! ' 

The bitterness and passion with which 
she spoke were both new to Brenda, who 
had never suspected her of such depth of 
feeling. Being in the dark, more or less, 
concerning its cause, she hardly knew 
what to say, so she held her peace. She 
felt that nothing she could say would alter 
her friend's feelings, and might possibly 
even aggravate them. After a turn up 
and down the room, the widow resumed 
her seat, and seemed to become calmer. 

' Where are you going to stay in town, 
Brenda ? ' 

' With my aunt, Mrs St Leger, in Ken- 
sington. My father always lives in his 
own rooms, you know. He doesn't want 
to be troubled with a grown-up daughter.' 

' He won't be troubled long if Harold 
is to be believed.' 

' You mean our marriage ? No ! But 
you know my father doesn't approve of it. 
He wants me to marry Mr van Zwieten.' 

'That Dutchman! Horrid creature! 
I never could bear him. Gilbert liked 
him, though.' 

' Indeed ! ' said Brenda, rather sur- 
prised. ' Mr van Zwieten told me he 
and Mr Malet were not friendly.' 

Lady Jenny laughed in a way not good 
to hear. ' Very likely. Van Zwieten is 
cunning — slim, as his countrymen call it. 
I know more about him, though, than he 
thinks.' 

' Do you know who he is ? ' 

'Yes, I know who he is, and how he 
makes his money, and why he is in 
England.' 

' How did you find out ? ' asked Brenda, 
breathlessly. 



What Mr Scarse admitted 



29 



' Oh, that I mustn't tell you — suppose 
you were to tell Van Zwieten ? ' 

' Tell him ! ' repeated Miss Scarse, her 
face crimson, her eyes bright. 'Why, I 
hate him more than any man I ever knew. 
He wants to marry me, and won't take a 
refusal. My father supports him, and, for 
Harold's sake, I have to fight them both.' 

' And you are not afraid of so formi- 
dable a foe ? ' said the widow, seeing her 
eyes droop. 

4 Not of my father, but I am afraid of 
Mr van Zwieten. He is a terrible man, 
and has so powerful a will that he can 
almost impose it on mine. There is 
something hypnotic about him, and I 
feel scarcely mistress of myself when he 
is near me.' 

' Nonsense ! You are fanciful, child.' 

1 Indeed — indeed I am not,' protested 
the girl, eagerly. ' But you don't know 
how strong and obstinate he is. He 
never loses his temper, he just looks and 
looks with those terrible eyes of his, and 
repeats his desire — his will — his intentions 
— over and over again. I feel like a 
rabbit in the presence of a snake. And 
that's why I want Harold and me to be 
married soon, because I feel, if we are 
tiot, Mr van Zwieten will compel me in 
spite of myself.' 

Lady Jenny bent forward and caught 
Brenda's wrists. ' My dear, if Van Zwieten 
tries these pranks on, you send for me. 
If anyone can save you from him, I can.' 

'But how?' 

' That is my affair. Van Zwieten may 
be all you say, but I can make him afraid 
of me. Now you must go, my dear. I 
have a lot of letters to write.' 

Brenda went off much puzzled over Lady 
Jenny's attitude towards Van Zwieten. 
Evidently she knew something to the 
man's disadvantage. But Brenda was 
doubtful whether her friend could use her 
knowledge sufficiently cleverly to crush 
the Dutchman. His resource was extra- 
ordinary, and he was clever and unscru- 
pulous enough to be able to defend himself 
in an emergency. However, she felt it 
was no use trying to forecast the future. 
She resolved to keep out of Van Zwieten's 
way and get Harold to marry her as soon 
as possible. Once she was Mrs Burton, 
the Dutchman would be obliged to cease 
persecuting her. 



For the next few days Brenda was fully 
occupied with her packing. As Harold 
was in London, or rather so near London, 
that he could come up there quickly, she 
was glad to be going. She felt she must 
see him and have from him an explanation, 
and an understanding as to when their 
marriage could take place. At her aunt's 
she would be safe from Van Zwieten, since 
Mr St Leger did not like him ; but Brenda 
knew well that for his own ends — what- 
ever these might be — her father would, as 
ever, insist on her favouring Van Zwieten. 

The only way to put an end to the in- 
tolerable situation was to marry Harold. 
With that, her father would no doubt wash 
his hands of her, but at least she would 
be relieved from the persecutions of the 
Dutchman, and would have someone to 
love and protect her. So it was with 
thankfulness that Brenda left the cottage. 

In the train she found a travelling com- 
panion whom she did not expect — none 
other than Harold's brother. Wilfred's 
foot was now quite well, and he looked 
better in health than when Brenda had 
last seen him. He joined her at Langton 
Junction, and they travelled up in the 
same carriage, which they were fortunate 
enough to have to themselves. She was 
pleased that it was so, for she wanted to 
talk confidentially with Wilfred. They 
were the best of good friends. 

' I am so glad your foot is all right 
again, Wilfred,' she said cheerfully. ' It 
is such a painful thing — a sprain.' 

'Yet for all that I am not sorry I 
sprained it,' said Wilfred, turning his 
thin white face towards the girl. 

' Not sorry ! What do you mean ? ' 

' Oh, it's an ill wind — you know.' 

' Yes, I suppose it is. But it's difficult 
to see what sort of "good " one can look 
for from a sprained ankle ! ' 

'Well, in this instance I fancy it did 
me a good turn. You see it rendered me 
physically helpless for the time being.' 

' My dear Wilfred— I confess you 
puzzle me.' 

'Do I? Well, I'll tell you what I 
mean. The night, almost the hour, I 
sprained my ankle, poor Malet was shot. 
So no one can possibly accuse me of 
having shot him ! ' 

' But who would dare to accuse you of 
such a thing ? ' 



3o 



A Traitor in London 



' Oh, I don't know ; that fool of an 
inspector was quite prepared to fix his 
beastly suspicions on Harold — told me as 
much.' 

' I know ; but then you see Harold and 
Mr Malet quarrelled. That was the 
reason Mr Woke was suspicious. But of 
course Harold laughed at the idea.' 

' I should think so. I confess the 
whole thing licks me. I can't imagine 
who can have done it.' 

' No one knows. Lady Jenny says no 
one ever will know ! ' 

' I suppose not. It seems to be rele- 
gated to the list of undiscovered crimes. 
Do you know, Brenda, I have had my 
suspicions ! ' 

A cold hand clutched the girl's heart. 
She immediately thought of her father. 
' Have you ? ' she faltered. ' Of whom ? ' 

' Well, I wouldn't tell everyone, as I 
have really no sort of basis for them. 
They are the purest suspicions. But I 
suspect that big " Dutchman who was 
staying at your place.' 

' Van Zwieten ! ' Brenda's mind ran 
over the events of that % terrible night. 
The Dutchman had been out ; he had 
come in after her. But again her father 
had told the servants that Van Zwieten 
was in the study with him — a distinct 
falsehood. Whichever way she looked 
at it, her father seemed to be mixed up 
in the matter. 'Yet what possible motive 
could Van Zwieten have had to impel him 
to such a crime ? ' she asked Wilfred. 

' It might be a political crime,' said the 
young man, his face lighting up as it 
invariably did when he talked politics. 
' Gilbert was an Imperialist — always 
preaching and writing against the Boers. 
Van Zwieten is Dutch, and is going out 
to an appointment at Pretoria ; also he 
is an intimate friend of Dr Leyds. He 
might have wished to get Gilbert out of 
the way because he was dangerous to his 
schemes.' 

' Surely he wouldn't have gone the 
length of murder for such a reason.' 

' Oh, I don't know. If he could with- 
out being found out, I am certain he 
would. I don't say Van Zwieten fired 
the shot himself, but he might have hired 
someone to do it.' 

' What makes you think that, Wilfred ? ' 

'Well, I was talking to the station- 



master at Chippingholt. He said that a 
man in a dark overcoat with a soft hat 
pulled over his eyes went to Lang ton 
Junction by the 10.30 train — the last train 
on that night. Van Zwieten saw him off 
at the station. He was seen to follow 
the man to the compartment and put his 
head through the window. There was 
evidently an understanding between them. 
Nowyou know, Brenda, few strangers come 
to Chippingholt, for there is nothing to see 
there. It was odd, to say the least of it, 
that Van Zwieten should have seen this 
fellow off. Moreover, he just left after 
the murder was committed.' 

' I don't see, though, how you are justi- 
fied from this in thinking that either Van 
Zwieten or the other man is implicated in 
the murder,' said Brenda after a pause. 
'They might simply have met on business.' 

' What sort of business ? ' 

' I can't say, I am not in Mr van 
Zwieten's confidence.' 

Wilfred's eyes flashed. ' I wish I was ! ' 
he said emphatically. ' I believe the 
fellow is a Boer spy ! ' 

' I thought so too, and I told him so.' 

' What did he say ? ' 

'He denied it. Wilfred, did anyone 
see the face of this stranger ? ' 

' No. He kept his coat collar turned up, 
and his hat well over his eyes. Why ? ' 

' Nothing, I was only wondering.' 
Brenda dreaded lest she should hear 
that the stranger was he who so closely 
resembled her father. She wondered, 
too, whether it was possible her father 
could have assisted this man to escape 
after he had shot Mr Mallet ; for that the 
crime had been committed by the same 
man who wore the black crape scarf 
seemed conclusively proved by the 
presence of that piece of it in the vic- 
tim's hand. 

' I intend to keep a pretty close watch 
on Mr van Zwieten,' went on Wilfred. 
* In fact, that is why I have come up to 
town. If, as I suspect, he is a spy, the 
authorities must know of it. In the event 
of hostilities breaking out between this 
country and the Transvaal, he would of 
course be arrested at once.' 

' But you cannot prove his complicity 
in this matter, Wilfred ? ' 

' I intend to have a shot at it any way,' 
replied the young man, grimly. ' But 



Aunt Judy 



3i 



come, Brenda, here we are at Victoria. 
Let me put you in a hansom.' 

' Do come and see me, Wilfred. I'm 
at Mrs St Leger's.' 

' Thanks ; I will. I may ask you to 
help me too in my pursuit of this Dutch- 
man.' 

'How you seem to hate Mr van 
Zwieten, Wilfred,' she exclaimed. ' Have 
you any especial reason to dislike him ? ' 

' I hate him because he is the enemy 
of my country.' 

As the cab drove away, Brenda mused 
on the fervent patriotism of the man. 
Frail, neurotic, frequently ailing, a prey 
to chronic melancholia, yet he was of the 
stuff of which such men as Hampden, 
Pym and Cromwell are made. He be- 
lieved in the greatness of England as he 
did in the existence of God. Her every 
triumph sent a thrill through him, her 
lightest disaster cut him to the quick. It 
was as if he were ever under the influence 
of a fixed idea. But if he were, the idea 
was at least a noble and an elevating one. 
His spirit was strongas his body was weak, 
and through his body he paid dearly for 
his patriotic emotions. 

It had been Brenda's intention to drive 
at once to Kensington, but when she re- 
called all that Wilfred had said, she felt 
she must see her father, if only to clear 
her mind of suspicion. Had he assisted 
— as seemed probable — in the escape of 
the unknown man, he must have known 
that the creature was a murderer, since 
there could be no other reason for such a 
hurried and secretive flight. She felt she 
could not rest until she had the truth from 
his own lips. Hence she told the man to 
drive to his chambers in Star Street. 

Fortunately the old man was in. He 
looked leaner and whiter, she thought, than 
ever. He was buried in the evening papers, 
from which he was cutting out slips, which 
he proceeded to paste into a large book. 
It was from these clippings of editorial 
opinion and collected data that he con- 
structed his speeches, throwing in as 
flavouring a dash of his own dogmatic 
optimism, and some free expression re- 
flecting the true humanity of other nations 
as compared with that of his own brutal 
country, of which, in truth, he had little 
to say that was not abusive. 

As usual, he received Brenda coldly, 



and wondered why she had not driven at 
once to her aunt's. She soon explained 
to him her reasons. 

' Father, I am worrying myself to death 
about that man with the crape scarf.' 

Scarse coloured and averted his eyes. 
' Why, pray ? ' he asked. 

'Because I can't get over his resem- 
blance to you. Is he a relative ? ' 

'No.' Scarse cleared his throat and 
spoke. ' The fact is, Brenda, I wore that 
crape scarf and snuff coloured coat myself. 
I am the man Harold saw.' 



CHAPTER VII 

AUNT JUDV 

For a while Brenda did not grasp the full 
significance of her father's admission. She 
stared at him blankly. Then the recol- 
lection of that morsel of crape in the 
dead man's hand, and all that it meant, 
came upon her with overwhelming force. 
She could not cry, but a choking sensa- 
tion came at her throat. Her father was 
the man who had worn the crape scarf — 
then her father was the man who had 
murdered Gilbert Malet ! 

'What is it, Brenda? Why do you 
look at me like that ? ' he asked nervously. 

He stood beyond the circle of light 
cast by the lamp on the table, and she 
could not see his face, but by the tremor 
of his voice she guessed that he was 
badly frightened. She pulled herself 
together — what the effort cost her no 
one but herself knew — and came at once 
to the gist of the thing. 

' Father, did you shoot Mr Malet ? ' 

' I ? No. Are you mad. girl, to say 
such a thing ? How dare you — to me, 
your father?' Indignation apparently 
choked further speech on the part of Mt 
Scarse. 

' God help me ! yes, you are my father,' 
wailed Brenda. She threw herself face 
downwards on the sofa and sobbed 
bitterly. There was that in her father's 
nervous denial which impelled her to 
believe that her suspicions were correct. 
If he had not himself killed Malet, at 
least he knew who had. But at the 
present moment Brenda firmly believed 
that his own hand had fired the fatal shot. 



32 



A Traitor in London 



' Brenda, listen to me ; you speak fool- 
ishly ; we must understand one another. 
What grounds have you for making such 
a terrible accusation against me ? ' 

The old man's voice was now steady, 
and he spoke harshly. He poked the 
fire and expanded his thin, dry hands to 
the blaze. It was a haggard face which 
the spurting flames illumined; but the 
mouth was firmly set, and there was a 
hard, dogged expression in the eyes. As 
Brenda made no reply, and still continued 
to sob, he cast an impatient glance at her 
prostrate figure and went over to the side- 
board. Thence he returned with a glass 
of wine. 

' Drink this, Brenda, and don't be a 
fool. I did not murder the man.' 

The girl sat up and slowly drank the 
wine. Hir father crossed over to the 
door and locked it, upon which the girl 
laughed contemptuously. 

'Do you think I have the police in 
waiting ? ' she said. 

' That is not the way to speak to your 
father,' snarled he, sitting down. 

But the wine had put new life into 
Brenda, and she was regaining courage 
with her returning colour. Not by this 
man — the father who had been no father 
to her — was she to be daunted. With a 
quick movement she removed the lamp- 
shade, and the sudden spread of the light 
showed her Mr Scarse biting his nails 
with anything but a reassuring expression 
on his face. At that moment Brenda 
felt she hated the author of her being. 

' You are my father in name, nothing 
more,' she said coldly. ' In no way have 
you ever attempted to gain my affection. 
You kept me at school as long as you 
could, and only when it was forced upon 
you did you take charge of my life. I 
have no love for you, nor have you for me ; 
but I always respected you until now.' 

Scarse winced, and his parchment-like 
skin grew pink. 'And why don't you 
respect me now ? ' 

' Because I am certain that, even if you 
did not kill him, you had something to 
do with the death of Mr Malet ! ' 

' That is untrue, 'replied he, composedly. 

Brenda looked at him keenly. 'The 
murderer wore a crape scarf. Of that I 
have direct evidence. I also know that 
you burnt that scarf.' 



' How do you know that ? ' he snapped. 

' I found the ashes under the grate, 
and I picked up a scrap of the crape. 
Nevertheless, in spite of your admission, 
I am not certain now in my own mind 
that it was you who wore it. Father, 
you were not the man whom Harold 
met' 

'I am — I was,' insisted Scarse, dog- 
gedly. ' I put on that old coat because 
I couldn't find the one I usually wear. 
As to the scarf, I wore it in token of my 
sorrow for the way in which this country 
is being ruined by its statesmen.' 

But Brenda declined to accept this 
explanation. 

'You are not mad, father,' she said, 
quietly; 'and only a madman would 
wear yards of crape round his neck in 
mourning for the delinquencies of his 
country's leaders; and only a madman 
would have killed Mr Malet ! ' She 
paused, and, as he made no reply, con- 
tinued : ' The man Harold mistook for 
you was seen by other people, who also 
made the same mistake. What he came 
to Chippingholt for I know as well as 
you do. He came with the full intention 
of killing Mr Malet.' 

' Go on, go on,' jeered her father ; ' you 
are making out a fine case against me.' 

' Not against you, but against this re- 
lative of yours. Ah ! you wince. I am 
right. He is a relative. No person who 
wasn't could bear so strong a resemblance 
to another. He is some relation of whom 
you are ashamed — a twin brother, for all 
I know. He was in your study that day 
when you said it was Van Zwieten who 
was with you.' 

' He was not ! ' retorted Scarse, angrily. 
' How dare you make me out a liar ? Van 
Zwieten was with me. I locked the door 
of the study because we had quarrelled. 
He insisted on leaving the room, and, as 
I refused to open the door, he stepped 
out of the window, and went round and 
rang the front-door bell for admittance.' 

' That is an ingenious, but a far-fetched 
explanation, father.' 

' It is the true one. You can take or 
leave it.' 

' I leave it, then,' said Brenda, calmly. 
' You had the stranger in your study, and 
you afterwards sent him off by the 10.30 
train. He was seen at the station ! ' 



Aunt Judy 



33 



Scarse started. ' By whom ? ' he asked 
hurriedly. 

'B;» VanZwietenandthe stationmaster! ' 
'Van Zwieten?' repeated Scarse, irrit- 
ably. ' He saw — who told you all this 
rubbish ? ' 

' Wilfred. The stationmaster told him. 
Besides, it is not rubbish. Oh, father, 
why won't you be frank with me? We 
have not much feeling for one another, 
but still I am your daughter, and I want 
to help you ; so does Harold — ' 

' What has he to do with it ? ' asked 
Scarse, sharply. ' 

'It was Harold who searched the corpse 
before it was taken to the Manor,' replied 
Brenda, speaking slowly. ' In the clenched 
right hand a morsel of black crape was 
found. Father, it was torn off that scarf ! ' 
'You cannot be certain of that.' 
' How otherwise could so strange a 
material as crape come to be in the dead 
man's hand ? He cried out before he was 
shot; I heard him. He must have clutched 
at his assailant and torn a piece from 
his scarf.' 

' Did you see me shoot Mr Malet ? ' 
' I saw no one shoot him ; but I am 
certain it was that man.' 

Scarse rose and paced up and down the 
room. ' I was the man, I tell you, who 
wore the scarf,' he said for the third time, 
'and I never even saw Malet on that 
night. I have no brother, no relatives of 
any kind, save your aunt, Mrs St Leger.' 

' You won't trust me ? ' said Brenda, ' 
sadly. 

'There is nothing more to say,' replied 
her father, his features set hard as a flint. 
' It is useless my giving you the facts if 
you won't believe them. I have no idea 
who the man was who was seen at the 
station. Van Zwieten said nothing to me 
about it. I am the man Harold took for 
a stranger, and I cut Captain Burton be- 
cause I dislike him very much. I did not 
see Mr Malet — certainly I did not kill 
him — and — and 1 have no more to say.' 

' How do you account for that piece of 
crape in the hand of — ' 

' Brenda ! ' interrupted he, turning on 
her, ' I could give you an explanation of 
that which would amaze you ; but I will 
rest content with saying that the scrap 
you refer to was not torn off the scarf I 
wore. I burnt the scarf after I had had 



it on once, because I thought — well, 
because I thought it was foolish of me.' 

' Father, I am certain you are not 
speaking openly.' 

' No, I am not. If I did, you would 
at once see that you were wrong in sus- 
pecting me of this crime. I am not guilty 
of it.' 

'No, I don't think you are,' said Brenda; 
' but you are shielding someone.' 

'Perhaps I am,' replied he, smiling 
sourly ; ' but not the stranger you have 
invented — he does not exist.' He paused, 
and then asked abruptly, ' Has Burton 
mentioned this matter to anyone ? ' 

' Only to me. For your sake he keeps 
silent. ' 

' Oh ! ' Scarse smiled sourly again. ' I 
suppose he thinks he'll force me into con- 
senting to your engagement that way. But 
he won't. You shall marry Van Zwieten.' 

Brenda rose and drew her cloak around 
her. ' I have told you I will marry no 
one but Harold,' she said coldly. ' There 
is no need to discuss the matter further. 
My cab is waiting, so I'll drive on to 
Aunt Judy's.' 

'With your mind somewhat more at 
rest, I trust,' said he, as she unfastened 
the door. 

' Yes, so far as you personally are con- 
cerned. But you know who murdered 
that man, and you are shielding him.' 

' I deny that ! ' Then, as she went out 
of the door, he ran after her, and said in 
a loud whisper, ' Think if there is no one 
else who wears crape at Chippingholt ? ' 

Before she could make reply to this he 
closed the door. She did not pay much 
attention to it, because she had made up 
her mind about the stranger, whom she 
felt convinced her father was shielding. 
She went down the stairs and got into 
her cab. In a few moments she was again 
in Piccadilly on her way west. There at 
Aunt Judy's she felt sure at least of a 
warm welcome. 

A stout, good-natured woman was Mrs 
St Leger. She conceived it to be her 
one duty in life to keep her husband in 
a good temper. And experience hid 
proved to her that the only means of 
performing this was by a strict attention 
to his diet— no easy task, seeing that he 
was a peppery old Imli.in colonel with a 
liver and a temper. He had l ng since 

3 



34 



A Traitor in London 



retired from the army after a career of 
frontier skirmishing in Northern India, 
and now passed his time between his 
home in Kensington and his military 
club. In both places he was greatly 
feared for his hectoring manner and flow 
of language, which was well-nigh irresist- 
ible. Mrs St Leger was always thankful 
when the meals passed off without direct 
conflict, and she spent most of her day 
reading cookery books for the unearthing 
of delicacies, and having unearthed them, 
in consulting the cook how to prepare 
them for the fastidious palate of her lord 
and master. 

The old couple were fond of Brenda — 
Aunt Judy because the girl was a comfort 
to her in some vague sort of way which 
she could not define, and Uncle Bill 
because Brenda was not in the least in 
awe of his temper, and gave him every 
bit as good as she received. 

To each other Colonel and Mrs St 
Leger were always Julia and William ; 
but Brenda from her earliest childhood 
had known them as Aunt Judy and Uncle 
Bill, and to those fond appellations she 
still clung. Had anyone else dared to 
address the colonel so, he would assuredly 
have taken an apoplectic fit on the spot, 
being so predisposed and of ' full habit ' ; 
but Brenda he graciously permitted to- 
be thus familiar. To sum up the worthy 
colonel's character, it may be stated that 
he hated Mr Scarse as bitterly as he hated 
cold meat; and to anyone who knew 
him the comparison would havi been 
all-sufficient. 

' Dear, dear child,' cooed Mrs St Leger 
as Brenda sipped her cup of tea in the 
drawing-room, ' how good it is to see you 
again. William — ' 

'Very glad, very glad,' rasped the 
colonel, who was glowering on the hearth- 
rug. ' I want to hear all about this in- 
iquitous murder. Poor Malet ! Clever 
chap, but always contradicting — good 
fellow all the same. Wrote and talked 
well against these damned Little Eng- 
landers. Gad ! I'd forgive Judas Iscariot 
if he did that ! ' 

' Have they caught the murderer, dear?' 
asked Aunt Judy, with a beaming smile 
on her fat face. 

'No,' replied Brenda. 'Nor do I 
believe they ever will catch him.' 



' Him ! ' roared Uncle Bill, chuckling. 
' Egad ! and how d'you know it's a " him " ? 
Might be a " her." Eh, what ? I suppose 
in these days a woman can fire a revolver 
as well as a man, eh ? ' 

' A woman ! — why a woman ? ' 

' Eh, why ? I don't know. Why should 
the poor devil have been killed at all ? ' 

' Yes, why should he have been killed 
at all, that's what William and I want to 
know,' bleated Aunt Judy. ' How does 
Lady Jenny take it, Brenda, dear ? ' 

'Oh, very quietly. She is much less 
grieved than I had expected her to be.' 

' H'm ! ' rasped the colonel, in a parade 
voice. ' I daresay she is pleased for that 
matter. Most of 'em are when they bury 
their husbands. I can fancy Julia smiling 
when I toddle.' 

'Oh, William, how can you? By the 
way, has Lady Jenny been left well off, 
Brenda ? ' 

'No, I'm afraid not. She says Mr Malet 
was terribly extravagant.' 

'Hewasa gambler,' shouted the colonel, 
' well known round the clubs. When he 
wasn't dropping it at Monte Carlo, he was 
running amuck on 'Change. Always had 
bad luck that chap,' added he, rubbing his 
nose ; ' lost thousands. The wonder is 
he didn't go under long ago. Shouldn't 
be surprised to bear Lady Jenny had 
been left without a sixpence.' 

' Oh, no, uncle ; she has ten thousand 
pounds at least; her husband's life was 
insured for that, and she says his creditors 
can't touch that.' 

' Perhaps not, but hers can. I knew 
old Lord Scilly — no end of a spendthrift, 
and his daughter's like him, or I'm mis- 
taken. Women are all spendthrifts — ' 

'Well, I'm sure, William—' 

' Oh ! you're all right, Julia. There 
are worse than you. Nice little woman 
Lady Jenny, though, all the same — good 
sporting sort, shoots jolly straight, and 
all that.' 

' A thing I highly disapprove of,' said 
Mrs St Leger, shaking her head mildly. 
' I'm glad, dear child,' turning to Brenda, 
'that you don't do that sort of thing. 
It is so unladylike, I think.' 

' Perhaps it's a pity I don't, aunt. If 
I go to the front with Harold I might be 
all the better for knowing how to pull the 
trigger of a gim or a revolver.' 



Bad News 



35 



' Harold ! — what, young Burton ! ' 
growled the colonel. ' Are you going to 
marry him ? Is it settled? It is ! Well, 
he's not a bad young fellow ; but as a 
soldier ! pooh ! there are no soldiers now- 
adays. The army's going to the dogs.' 

' But, Brenda, dear child, what would 
you be doing at the front ? ' asked the 
old lady. ' There is no war.' 

'Not yet; but everyone says there is 
going to be war in South Africa.' 

' Of course there will be,' snapped the 
colond. ' Do you think we're goin' to 
be defied by a couple of puny little Re- 
publics ? Damnable insolence, I call it. 
They ought to be whipped, and they will 
be. Your father supports the beggars, 
Brenda, and he's a — ' 

' William ! Her father — my brother ! ' 

' Beg pardon, Julia ; but he is, and you 
know he is. Going against his own 
country. Ha ! here are the evening 
papers. We'll see what further rubbish 
these pro-Boer idiots have been talking. 
Julia, please see that dinner is punctual. 
And, Brenda, don't you be late. I hate 
waiting for my meals ! ' 

Thus saying, the colonel plunged out 
of the room, and Mrs St Leger took 
Brenda upstairs. The old lady was de- 
lighted at the news of her engagement 
to Harold, and congratulated and em- 
braced the girl with much effusion, and 
insisted upon her asking Captain Burton 
to dine; all of which Brenda received 
with the best of good grace, notwith- 
standing that she was in no mood for 
conversation and longed to be alone. At 
last Mrs St Leger left her. 

Then she fell to thinking of the sub- 
ject which was all the time uppermost in 
her mind. That last remark of her 
father's forced itself upon her. Who else 
was there in Chippingholt who wore 
crape ? Then suddenly it flashed across 
her mind that Lady Jenny did. Of 
course, she was in mourning for her father. 
Then came the colonel's words — She was 
a good shot ! 

Trembling all over, she sat down and 
wrestled with these two facts. They 
were all-significant. 

'Could it — could it really be Lady 
Jenny?' she asked herself. 

Cut to that question she could find 
no answer. 



CHAPTER VIII 



BAD NEWS 



So Brenda was in London again, and found 
the great city in an uproar over the possi- 
bility of a war in South Africa. Negotia- 
tions were constantly passing between 
Englandand the Transvaal concerning the 
franchise for the Uitlanders. History was 
being manufactured at the rate of a sensa- 
tion a week ; Leyds was weaving his plots 
and spreading his nets in Europe ; while at 
Pretoria Paul Kruger numbered his bur- 
ghers, dispensed arms, and intrigued with 
the President of the Free State. Few be- 
lieved that a war was inevitable, thata small 
state of farmers would defy a mighty em- 
pire. But there were others who knew 
from rumours and hints that real strength 
lay behind the apparent weakness of those 
two diminutive Republics. Meanwhile 
zealots like Scarse preached ever the fable 
of the wolf and the lamb. Chamberlain 
was the wolf and good Oom Paul the lamb 
— somewhat overgrown perhaps, but still 
a lamb. 

A pro-Boer meeting was announced to 
be held in Trafalgar Square, and Scarse 
was to speak in favour of the honest, God- 
fearing agriculturists, who, his imagination 
led him to believe, inhabited Pretoria. 
He and his following were dead against 
the war, and asserted that so many were 
the people of their opinion t!:at only the 
big square could hold them. So they 
rejoiced at the prospect of their conven- 
tion, which was going to force England 
into repeating the cowardly policy of the 
Liberals after Majuba — a policy miscalled 
magnanimous, and out of which all these 
present troubles had arisen. In Amster- 
dam, astute Dr Leyds rejoiced also on the 
assumption that a house divided against 
itself could not stand. His President 
had provided him with that text, and the 
mere fact of this mass meeting seemed to 
prove the force of it. 

Meanwhile he scattered money broad- 
cast — Uitlander money — that the honour- 
able Continental Press might yelp and 
clamour like jackals at the heels of the 
lion their respective countries dare not 
attack. It is only just to say that none 
of Leyds' guineas found their way into 



3 6 



A Traitor in London 



Scarse's pocket. If misguided, he was 
at least honest. 

But Brenda took little notice of the 
question of the day, burning as it was. 
She concerned herself only with Harold, 
and had the fate of the Empire been at 
stake — as it seemed likely to be — she 
would still have thovght of him. In- 
structed by Aunt Judy, she duly invited 
him to dinner. He refused on the plea 
of regimental duty. He would be in 
town, he said, towards the end of the 
week. Brenda imagined she could read 
a nervous fear in every line of his letter. 
But having no one to consult, she was 
obliged to wait his coming. He alone 
could explain much that was mysterious 
to her. 

Meanwhile she resolved to see her 
father, and ask upon what grounds he 
suspected Lady Jenny. His hint about 
the crape referred unmistakably to that 
lady. And it was true ; Lady Jenny had 
stated very plainly that she did not love 
her husband, and that because of his con- 
nection with some other woman. But 
she had said nothing on which Brenda 
could fasten now, even in the light of 
suspicion ; certainly she was in mourning 
for her father and wore crape usually. 
And it was probable that she wore it on 
the night of the murder. She had been 
out, too, about- the hour when it took 
place. Then there was the fact that she 
was an accomplished shot; but all this 
evidence was purely circumstantial, and 
could in no way bring home the guilt to 
her. Yet she might have a motive, and 
Scarse might know that motive, so Brenda 
sought out her father two or three days 
after their last interview. Come what 
would, she intended to force him to speak 
plainly. 

That Harold's name might be cleared 
from the suspicions cast upon it by In- 
spector Woke, it was necessary that the 
guilt should be brought home to the right 
person. Now Brenda wished to be at 
rest about her father's connection with the 
strange man whose existence he denied. 

But on the occasion of this second visit 
to Star Street she was unfortunate. Mr 
Scarse was not at home, and the porter 
of the mansions did not know when he 
would be in. Brenda went upstairs to 
wait, and was admitted into the chambers 



by her father's old servant, a staid ex- 
butler who had been with him for years. 
This man brought her some tea, gave her 
an evening paper, and left her alone in 
the study. It was between four and five, 
so that the chances were that Mr Scarse 
would soon return. One of his virtues 
was punctuality. 

Leaning back in the deep arm-chair by 
her father's everlasting fire— quite super- 
fluous on this warm evening — Brenda sip- 
ped her tea and fell to thinking of Harold. 

She was physically tired, having been 
shopping all the morning with her aunt. 
The warmth of fire and atmosphere 
soothed her nerves and made her feel 
drowsy. In a very few minutes she was 
fast asleep and dreaming of her lover. At 
least so concluded her father's butler when 
he peeped in to see if she required any- 
thing. 

From her slumber Brenda was awak- 
ened by the touch of a hand on her 
shoulder. Then, as she languidly opened 
her eyes, a man bent over her and kissed 
her. 

'Harold,' she murmured, drowsily, 
' my darling — ' 

' I win the gloves, Miss Scarse,' said a 
quiet, calm voice. The man stepped back 
as she sprang to her feet. 

' Mr van Zwieten ! ' she cried, with a 
sense of suffocation. ' You ! ' 

'I,' answered Van Zwieten, removing 
the lamp-shade that he might see her 
more clearly. 

Then she realised that she must have 
been sleeping a long time, for the lamp 
had not been lit when she sat down. 

' You coward ! ' she panted, with flash- 
ing eyes — ' you contemptible coward ! ' 

Cool as he was, Van Zwieten winced 
at the hatred in her voice. But the more 
she loathed him the more determined he 
was to make her his wife. He recovered 
his calmness with a laugh, and stood by 
the table, masterful and handsome in his 
smart town dress. No dandy could have 
been better turned out than the big Dutch- 
man. 

' Ach ! I have touched the proud lips 
of little red Schefen,' said he, quoting 
from Heine. ' Come, Miss Scarse, when 
am I tc have my gloves ? ' 

' If I were a man I would kill you ! ' 

' In that case— in any case — I am glad 



Bad News 



37 



you are a woman. Why are you angry? 
I am only anticipating my right.' 

' Oh ! ' cried Brenda, clenching her 
hands, ' will no one deliver me from this 
man ? ' 

' No one,' said Van Zwieten, slowly and 
determinedly. ' You are mine— you always 
were. That kiss makes you doubly so.' 

Brenda, seeing it was useless to speak, 
cast on him one look of scorn and stepped 
towards the door. Before she reached 
it h j spoke again. What he said made her 
pause. 

' Wait and listen to me, Miss Scarse — 
for your father's sake. Ah ! you are wise. 
Cone, here is a chair. Sit down ; we 
have much to talk about.' 

' I prefer to stand. Tell me, what do 
you mean ? ' she burst out. 

' What I say. Listen to me, for your 
father't sake. Or, if you care so little for 
him that you can get him into trouble 
without seeking to avert it, why — the door 
is open.' 

In answer to this speech Brenda sat 
down and looked steadily at the man. 
He met her gaze frankly, and throughout 
conducted the interview with his usual 
politeness. ' I know you do not love me,' 
said he, in his deep voice ; ' but I love 
you, and I am content to win your affection 
after marriatre.' 

'I will never marry you. Take that 
answer once and for all.' 

' In that case you leave me free to deal 
with your father.' 

' I don't understand you.' 

' Then I explain — not everything, for I 
never trust women, not even you. But I 
know the truth about this murder — so 
does your father.' 

Brenda preserved her coolness. ' Do 
you accuse him of the crime ? ' 

' Perhaps,' replied Van Zwieten, with a 
singular smile, 'should you not agree to 
give up Captain Burton and marry me. 
I know who killed Malet.' 

' So do I,' said Brenda, quietly. ' It 
was the man you saw at the station on 
the night of the murder.' 

Van Zwieten smothered an ejaculation 
of surprise. 'What do you know of him?' 

' I know that he killed Mr Malet— that 
my father shielded him, and sent him 
away. You dare not accuse my father of 
the murder.' 



' You are willing to risk that by refusing 
to marry me ? ' 

' Yes ; you can do your worst.' 

The Dutchman seemed rather discon- 
certed. He had not expected to be 
defied like this. 

' I don't want to proceed to extremities, 
Miss Scarse,' he said doubtfully ; ' but I 
know much that may damage your father 
should it become public. And if you do 
not care for him, there is Burton to be con- 
sidered. I can get him also into trouble.' 

' On what grounds ? ' 

' I won't tell you. Ask him yourself. 
Ask him why he left Chippingholt so 
suddenly.' 

Brenda started, for the remark con- 
firmed her suspicions that Harold was 
troubled in some way about this crime. 

' I shall ask him. Have you anything 
more to say ? ' 

'No; that will do for the present. 
Only,' said Van Zwieten, menacingly, ' I 
give you one last warning. If you marry 
Captain Burton, he is lost, your father is 
lost, and you will be a wretched woman 
all the rest of your days.' 

Up to the present Brenda had control- 
led her feelings very well. Now the femi- 
nine desire to speak her mind got the upper 
hand, and she rose to defy the Dutchman. 

'You speak very boldly and confidently,' 
she said; 'but you do not speak plainly. 
You hint at my father's guilt, at some link 
connecting Captain Burton with this 
crime. I don't believe you have the 
knowledge you say you possess. I am 
not to be terrified by vain threats, Mr van 
Zwieten — you are not dealing with a child.' 

' When the time comes, I shall speak 
out,' replied the man, sullenly. 

'Speak out now — if you can — if you 
dare ! ' , 

' No. I will do nothing in a hurry. But 
ask your father — ask Captain Burton — 
what they did on the night of the murder.' 

' You villain ! I believe you killed the 
man yourself.' 

'Oh, certainly,' mocked Van Zwieten, 
' if it pleases you to think so.' He took 
a turn up and down the room, then 
approached her with a grave smile. 

'Miss Scarse,' said he, entreatingly, 
' this is not the wooing I care for. I love 
you, and I will have you to be my wife, 
but it is not my desire to gain you by force. 



38 



A Traitor in London 



Why cannot you accept me? I am a 
richer man than Captain Burton, and I 
will make you a better husband. Come 
with me to the Transvaal, and you know 
not what height I may raise you to. 
There will be war — I am certain there 
will be war. Afterwards — ' 

' The Transvaal will cease to exist, Mr 
van Zwieten.' 

' By Heaven ! not so!' swore the Dutch- 
man, growing red. 'Ah, you do not know 
how we are tricking these English fools. 
I am Dutch, born in Holland, but I have 
thrown in my lot with the Boers. I and 
Leyds and Kruger and Steyn are set upon 
building up a new nation in South Africa. 
As the English, a century ago, were 
driven out of America, so will they be 
driven from the Cape. They will go to 
war, thinking it will be an easy task. 
They do not know — they do not guess — 
we have more burghers, more arms, more 
friends than they think. They are less 
well prepared for war than we are. Wait 
— wait — all the world will be astonished 
before the year is out. Brenda, I could 
say much, but I dare not. Trust me, love 
me, marry, me, and you will be great, even 
as I shall be great. Come with me and 
assist me to build up this new nation.' 

' At the expense of my own country ! ' 
cried the girl. ' I would rather die ! You 
are a Boer spy, a Boer liar ; but all your 
intrigues, all your lies, will come to nothing. 
If there is a war, your Republic will be 
crushed, and your rebellion punished. 
Is it to me, a loyal Englishwoman, that 
you speak ? Marry you ! Betray my 
country ! I defy your threat. I treat 
with contempt your boasts of conquest. 
Let me pass, Mr van Zwieten. Never 
dare to speak to me again.' 

With a vigorous movement she thrust 
him back, and swept out of the door be- 
fore he could recover his presence of mind. 
It was just as well she had gone, for Van 
Zwieten, baffled and scorned, gave way 
fully to his rage. He did not dare to 
follow and make a scandal, lest it should 
lead to inquiry about him and his doings. 
But he strode up and down the room, 
swearing volubly in Dutch and English. 
Furious with Brenda, furious with himself, 
he could not contain his anger. He had 
played his last card, and had lost. 

'No matter,' he said, with a mighty 



oath, ' I'll make her heart ache yet ! ' 
Though how he intended to do this was 
not clear even to himself. 

Van Zwieten was involved in a maze of 
intrigue ; but he was doubtful how to use 
it to his own advantage. He had ample 
material to manufacture trouble in con- 
nection with this crime, but for want of 
certain missing links in the chain he was 
puzzled how to act. To Brenda he had 
spoken with less than his usual caution. 
He had been carried away by his feelings. 
He was madly in love with her, and the 
more she scorned him, the more he wor- 
shipped her. If he could not win her by 
fair means, he would do so by foul. With- 
out waiting for the return of Mr Scarse, 
he left the chambers to think out some 
plan whereby he might net Brenda in his 
toils. As yet he could not see clearly 
ahead. But in time he might hope to ac- 
complish much that now appeared to be 
impossible. 

Brenda returned to Kensington v.ila a 
feeling of dread. It was apparent that 
Van Zwieten knew something detrimental 
to her father, but she had grave doubts 
whether he could use his knowledge. He 
would have used it before, she thought,, 
had it been a weapon of any strength. As 
to Harold, she could not conjecture what 
Van Zwieten's threat implied. He cer- 
tainly had not killed Malet, nor, on theface 
of it, did he know anything about the 
matter. She looked forward anxiously 
to his arrival, with the intention of war- 
ning himagainst his enemy. Only if there 
was perfect confidence between him and 
herself could they hope to baffle the wicked 
schemes of the Dutchman. 

But Harold seemed to avoid her, and 
as he had apparentlysomething to conceal, 
she could not assure herself that he would 
confide everything to her. In that case 
Van Zwieten might succeed in implicating 
him, for she deemed him no match for the 
Dutchman single-handed. 

The days passed and she counted every 
hour, anxious for that one which would 
bring her lover to her arms. At length 
he came one afternoon. She found him 
looking pale and haggard as with mental 
torture. She uttered no word of reproach, 
but threw herself into his arms. He 
strained her almost fiercely to his breast 
and covered her face with kisses. They 



Mrs St Leger is discreet 



39 



were alone in the drawing-room, as Mrs 
St Leger was out shopping and the colonel 
was holding forth at his club. 

Forsomeminutes neither of them spoke. 
It was Brenda who first broke the silence. 

' My darling, how glad I am to see you 
again,' she said, looking tenderly into his 
dark face. ' Oh, why did you leave me 
so cruelly — so suddenly at Chippingholt?' 

'I thought you'd ask that,' replied he, 
with an effort to appear gay. ' Well, dear, 
it was for two reasons ; in the first place, 
I was recalled suddenly by my colonel, 
and besides that I had bad news and did 
not dare to tell you.' 

'Oh, Harold, as though I could not 
bear anything for your sake. From whom 
did you have bad news ? ' 

' From Van Zwieten, strange to say.' 

She withdrew herself suddenly from her 
lover's arms, and a feeling of terror came 
over her. Van Zwieten again — the man 
seemed to be her evil genius. 

' What is the bad news ? ' she asked 
faintly. 

1 Malet gambled away my twenty thou- 
sand pounds. I havenothingbutmysmali 
income ! ' 



CHAPTER IX 

MRS ST LEGER IS DISCREET 

' Is that all ? ' asked Brenda, drawing a 
breath of relief. 'Oh, you stupid boy, 
did you run away because you were afraid 
to tell me that ? ' 

Captain Burton stared anddrew a breath 
also — one of amazement. ' Well, it's hard 
to understand a woman,' he said, half 
smiling, half annoyed. ' I made sure 
you'd cry your eyes out when you heard. 
Don't you understand, Brenda, what it 
means ? If we are to marry at all, it 
must be on our five hundred a year?' 

'And why not?' was her answer. 'I 
am ready if you are, Harold. How could 
you give me all this anxiety for such a 
trifle? I want you, my dear, not the 
money. But I thought you must have 
had some other reason for going away.' 

' What other reason could I have had?' 
asked Burton, quickly, and waiting appre- 
hensively for her reply. 

'Nevermind. I'll tell you later. Only 



the twenty thousand pounds ! Well, after 
all, I'm not surprised to hear of the loss.' 

'/was very much astonished, and very 
wretched when I heard it. I can't take 
the loss of all that money as quietly as 
you seem to do, Brenda. And not only 
mine has gone, but Wilfred's too. Forty 
thousand pounds, and all his own fortune ! 
Great Scot ! the man must have played day 
and night to get rid of it. What folly for 
my father to leave it so completely in his 
power. If there had only been another 
trustee to pull him up. I don't want to 
speak evil of the dead,' cried Harold, 
wrathfully, 'but I could find it in my 
heart to curse Malet.' 

' No, don't, Harold. His terrible death 
was punishment enough. How was it that 
Mr van Zwieten came to know of this ? ' 

' I can't say. He refused to tell me. 
But he did know, and he tried to make me 
give you up on that account. Of course I 
told him — well, never mind what I said — 
it was strong and to the point. Brenda, we 
have a dangerous enemy in Van Zwieten.' 

' I always knew we had. And now 
that this crime has been committed he is 
more dangerous than ever.' 

'How do you know that?' Harold 
looked anxiously at her. 

' He threatened me the other day.' 

' Threatened you ! — the hound ! What 
did he say ? ' 

' He told me, if I did not give you up 
and marry him, he would get my father 
into trouble over Mr Malet's murder.' 

' Does he suspect your father ? ' 

' Yes, and no. He insists that father 
was cognisant of the murder, but I think 
he puts the actual deed down to the man 
with the crape scarf.' 

' That may be true. Remember what 
I found ! ' 

' I remember. I also made a discovery,' 
and Brenda told him how she had found 
the crape scarf burning in the grate of her 
father's study at Chippingholt, how her 
father had asserted that he was the man 
seen by Harold, and many other things. 
Indeed, she told him all she knew, includ- 
ing her conversations with Lady Jenny, 
with Wilfred, with Van Zwieten and with 
her father. Chin in hand, Harold listened 
attentively, putting in a word now and 
then. When she had finished, he looked 
utterly perplexed. 



40 



A Traitor in London 



' It's all such a muddle I can't get at 
the rights of it,' he said. ' No one will 
speak out straight, and everyone seems to 
have something to hide. Bad as Van 
Zwieten is, I don't believe he killed 
Malet. I don't see what motive he could 
have had.' 

'Unless, as Wilfred says, it were for 
political reasons.' 

'Oh, Wilfred's crazy about politics,' 
replied Harold, testily. 'He thinks of 
nothing else. It is a perfect mania with 
him. But Van Zwieten would not be such 
a fool as to risk his neck because Malet 
took up the cudgels against the Boers. 
No, Van Zwieten is innocent enough.' 

' What about Lady Jenny ? ' 

Captain Burton changed colour, and 
commenced to pace up and down the 
room. ' She wouldn't have done it. She 
is half an Italian, I know, and fearfully 
passionate, but I think she'd stop short 
of that. Besides, although she is a jolly 
good shot, I doubt very much if she could 
hit a man in the dark like that so square 
as to kill him outright.' 

' But remember, Harold, the shot was 
fired at close quarters.' 

'I don't believe she'd have had the nerve 
for that. Of course it's quite possible she 
may be guilty, but there's not a scrap of 
evidence against her as far as I can see.' 

' What about the crape ? Lady Jenny 
wore crape ! ' 

1 That doesn't prove that this scrap was 
torn from her dress. The crape trimmings 
on that would lie close to the dress ; it 
wouldn't be so easy for a man to make a 
clutch at them and tear a piece off as at 
a scarf, with the ends floating freely My 
belief is that the morsel of crape was torn 
from the scarf.' 

' Well, it was not worn by my father, 
in spite of what he says.' 

' No. I daresay that man who left 
Chippingholt by the late train is the man 
who fired the shot. But your father knows 
all about it, Brenda. Otherwise he would 
not insist that he had worn the scarf, nor 
would he have burnt it as he did. I think 
with you that this unknown man is a re- 
lative of your father's, and that your father 
is shielding him to avoid the disgrace of 
having a criminal in the family.' 

' Aunt Judy would know him if he is a 
relative.' 



' That is very probable ; you had better 
ask her.' 

'Harold, do you think Van Zwieten 
knows the truth ? ' 

Captain Burton hesitated. ' It would 
seem so,' said he, ' but I don't think he 
is very sure of the truth, or else he would 
speak out.' 

' He threatens you, dear.' 

' I know he does. He threatened me 
at Chippingholt. Brenda, I don't deny 
that the man is dangerous, and that he 
knows more than I like him to know. It 
is in his power to harm me, and if I marry 
you he will do his best against me. But 
that sha'n't stop us, Brenda. We'll get 
married and defy him.' 

Miss Scarse signified her full approval 
of this course of action ; but she saw that 
her lover was keeping something back. 

' Harold, what else did Van Zwieten 
say to you at Chippingholt?' 

' Oh, nothing of any consequence,' re- 
plied her lover, uneasily. 

1 My dear ! ' Brenda slipped her arm 
round his neck and drew him down on 
the sofa beside her. ' If you love me, you 
must trust me. If you think me a sensible 
woman, you must be honest with me. I 
know you had some other reason for leav- 
ing Chippingholt so suddenly — it was not 
altogether because you were afraid of 
telling me about the loss of your money- 
Van Zwieten told me he could get you into 
trouble, and now you say the same thing. 
Tell me what hold he has over you ? ' 

' He has no hold over me,' whispered 
Harold. But she saw that his forehead was 
beaded with perspiration. 

' Tell me — tell me ? ' she repeated. 

' Brenda — I cannot — I dare not.' 

' Then there is something ? ' 

Captain Burton cast a glance round the 
room and nodded. ' I am not a coward,' 
he groaned ; ' I hope I am not a coward, 
but there are some things which make the 
bravest man afraid. Van Zwieten is a 
devil ! ' 

' Does he accuse you of the murder ? ' 

' No, he doesn't go so far as that, and 
yet — Brenda, ' he cried, taking her hand and 
holding it so tightly that she could have 
screamed, ' don't ask me any more ; it is 
not my own secret.' 

' Has it anything to do with my father ? ' 

' Partly ; but you need not be anxious 



Mrs St Leger is discreet' 



4* 



about that. He is in no danger. Leave 
me to fight it out with Van Zwieten. 1 
shall get the better of him yet. No, no, 
Brenda, don't ask me any more questions ; 
you cannot help me ; I must go through 
with this matter alone. Trust me if you 
love me.' 

' I ask you to do that with me,' said 
Brenda, sadly, 'and you refuse.' 

' I don't refuse. I cannot tell you now ; 
I will tell you when you are my wife. 
Listen ! We must get married quietly.' 

'Why quietly?' 

' Because I am afraid of Van Zwieten. 
Yes, you may well look astonished. I, who 
have never known fear before, fear him. 
Heknows too much, and ifheplotsagainst 
me I cannot counterplothim — at all events 
for the present. We must marry ! ' 

' When and where you please, darling ? ' 

'You trust me? ' 

' Yes, on the understanding that when I 
am your wife you tell me everything — every- 
thing ! ' 

Burton nodded again. ' I will tell you 
before if I can, Brenda. It is good of you, 
and like your dear self, to trust me. We 
can be married at St Chad's, at Brighton. 
I'll get a special licence. Down there we 
shall be free from interference by Van 
Zwieten.' 

' He would not dare — ' 

'Oh, yes, he would — if he knew. He 
would take some means of preventing our 
marriage.' 

' And you would let him do that ? ' 

' I — I might, and I might not. Captain 
Burton sighed wearily. ' If it were only 
myself I would not mind, but — but there 
are others whom I must consider.' 

' Harold, you are shielding someone ! ' 

'Yes — no. Brenda, dearest, for Heaven's 
sake don't question me.' 

She was perplexed by his indecision — 
annoyed by his reticence. But she had 
given her promise, and she would abide by 
it. ' You will not let me help you ? ' she 
said plaintively. 

'You cannot help me, dear; I must go 
through with this matter alone — unaided.' 

' But I can help you,' she insisted. ' Van 
Zwieten is our enemy. Well, then, Lady 
Jenny can help me to crush him.' 

He started nervously. ' What are you 
saying ? Lady Jenny can do nothing.' 
' Indeed she can, Harold. She told me 



that if Van Zwieten ever proved trouble- 
some I was to see her, and that she would 
thwart him.' 

Harold made no reply, but looked more 
than ever puzzled and perplexed. Then a 
light broke in upon Brenda. 

' Harold ! it is Lady Jenny herself you 
are shielding ? ' 

' I won't — I cannot tell you,' he replied 
desperately. 'Brenda, I'll see Lady Jenny 
myself at once. If she knows anything 
about Van Zwieten. I may be able to 
make use of her knowledge. Come, say 
good-bye.' 

'When shall I see you again?' 

' In three or four days. Promise me, 
Brenda, you won't see Jenny until I do.' 

' I promise. But if you fail with her, 
then I must see her.' 

' Yes, if I fail, but I won't fail. You have 
put a weapon into my hand. After I have 
seen her, I will tell you thewhole miserable 
business. We will get the better of Van 
Zwieten yet, my darling.' 

Captain Burton was picking up his spirits. 
He went away in a more cheerful frame of 
mind. Brenda felt certain that his refusal 
to speak was in the interest of Lady Jenny. 
Could she have fired the shot ? But that 
seemed impossible. If she herself were 
guilty, how could she silence and thwart 
Van Zwieten, who appeared to know so 
much about the crime ? What with her 
father's denials, Harold's silence, and Van 
Zwieten's threats, Brenda was quite be- 
wildered. What would be the outcome of 
it all? she wondered. 

Having promised Harold not to see Lady 
Jenny, Miss Scarse cast about in her mind 
as to who else could assist her in thwarting 
Van Zwieten. From her father no help 
could be obtained. He was wholly on the 
Dutchman's side, and, it would appear, 
under his thumb. Then she thought of 
Wilfred and his openly-expressed hatred of 
Van Zwieten. Could she not make use of 
that ? In the present state of popular feel- 
ing a Boer spy would have a bad time if 
found in London. If Wilfred could dis- 
cover that Van Zwieten really was on the 
Secret Service Staff of the Transvaal, he 
could force the Dutchman to leave England 
under threat of denouncing him to the 
authorities. 

No sooner had she come to this conclu- 
sion than she acted upon it, and wrote a 



42 



A Traitor in London 



note to Wilfred's London address, asking 
him to call. Having posted it, she re- 
turned to the drawing-room to make tea 
for Aunt Judy, who had just got back 
from her shopping. The colonel was still 
absent, so the two ladies settled them- 
selves down to the discussion of chiffons. 
If there was one thing Mrs St Leger was 
fond of it was dress. As for Brenda, her 
mind was too much preoccupied with her 
own troubles to care much for fashions or 
bargains. But strive as she might to hide 
her indifference, it did not take her aunt 
long to see that her interest was assumed. 
But that she put down to her lover's visit. 

' Why didn't he stay to tea ? ' she asked, 
putting away her purchases. 

' Because he had to get back to Alder- 
shot,' replied Brenda, pouring out the tea. 
' They are very busy down there.' 

' Oh, Brenda, do you think there will 
be war ? How glad I am that William 
has retired.' 

'That is not the speech of a true soldier's 
wife, Aunt Judy.' 

' My dear, it's all very well talking,' re- 
plied Mrs St Leger, testily, ' but you don't 
know what war is. I don't mean these little 
frontier skirmishes, but a real war — that is 
truly terrible. I remember the Crimea.' 

' I don't think this will be so bad, auntie. 
The Transvaal is not Russia.' 

' All the same I fancy they are better 
prepared than we think. William says 
so. He has heard all kinds of rumours 
at the club. Well, if it's got to be it's got 
to be. You will have to lose your Harold 
for a time, dear.' 

' In a good hour be it spoken,' cried 
Brenda, hastily, to avert the omen. ' Don't 
say I'll lose him, aunt. Of course he will 
go the front ; butdon'tspeak of losing him.' 

' Well, you never know, my dear. Oh, 
Brenda, I do wish your father were not 
going to speak at this mass meeting. 
There is sure to be trouble.' 

' I don't think he'll mind that,' said the 
girl. 'My father and those who think 
with him are doing all they can to bring 
about the war by confirming Kruger in 
his obstinacy.' 

' Stuart always was wrong-headed and 
obstinate,' sighed Mrs St Leger. ' I'm 
sure I tremble when he comes here. 
William and he do nothing but wrangle.' 

' Aunt Judy,' said Brenda, thinking the 



present a good opportunity, ' do you know, 
I am deplorably ignorantaboutmyfamily?' 

' Ignorant, my dear ? how do you mean ? 
Your mother, I know, was a sweet woman, 
and died all too young. If she had only 
lived Stuartmight have been very different.' 

' I was thinking more of my father, 
aunt. Is he your only brother ? ' 

Mrs St Leger almost dropped her cup. 
She looked scared and her face blanched. 
' Why do you ask me that, Brenda ? ' she 
asked in a faltering voice. 

'Because I have seen a man so like 
my father as to make me think he must 
be some relative — possibly a brother.' 

' Where did you see him ? ' 

'At Chippingholt. Aunt Judy, tell 
me, who is he?' 

Mrs St Leger recovered herself. ' My 
dear Brenda, how should I know who the 
man is ? You have been misled probably 
by a chance resemblance.' 

'The resemblance was too strongly 
marked to be mere chance. And my 
father — ' Brenda checked herself. 'Auntie, 
surely you can answer a simple question ? ' 

' What is it you want to know ? ' asked 
the old lady, nervously. 

' Have you two brothers ? ' 

' No. Your father is my only brother,' 
said Mrs St Leger, but by the way in which 
she said it Brenda knew that she spoke 
falsely. 

CHAPTER X 

THE MASS MEETING 

The better day, the better deed. Acting 
on the advice of this proverb, those re- 
sponsible for the pro-Boer meeting con- 
vened it on a Sunday, that all those 
engaged on other days in earning their 
bread might attend. And so far as num- 
bers went, the crowded state of Trafalgar 
Square seemed to justify this course. 
Nelson's Column soared from a dense 
mass of people, which even overflowed 
into the streets approaching the great open 
space. On all sides the windows were 
filled with curious spectators, who, appre- 
hensive all the while of trouble, gazed 
forth expectantly over the sea of heads 
below. But they need have had no fear. 
The mob was on its best behaviour — good- 
natured and roughly jocular as an English 



The Mass Meeting 



43 



crowd ever is — amenable to law and order, 
and ever ready to be controlled by the 
police. 

Platforms for the convenience of the 
orators had been erected round the grand 
column — the symbol of an Empire which 
these well-meaning busybodies were so 
anxious to dismember and destroy. Be- 
low, crowded labourers, artisans, shop- 
keepers, traders of all kinds ; and on the 
fringe of the mob, hard by the National 
Gallery, were lines of hansom cabs, sur- 
mounted by clubmen from Pall Mall and 
St James Street who had come to see the 
fun. There were plenty of women, bring- 
ing with them their children, when they 
could not leave them at home, and a 
sprinkling of redcoats and bluejackets. 
These, as the visible symbol of England's 
fighting power, were idolised by the mob. 
For, alas for Mr Scarse and his supporters, 
the voice of the people was dead against 
their philanthropic efforts. Instead of the 
Boer National Anthem, 'God save the 
Queen ' and ' Rule Britannia ' were being 
sung. The Little Englanders were doing 
their best to laud Kruger and damn their 
own Government ; but the temper of the 
mob was all the other way. In a word, 
the Imperialists were in the majority. 

On the parapet, near the National 
Gallery, Brenda, very plainly dressed, was 
holding on to Wilfred's arm. He had been 
lunching at Mrs St Leger's, and afterwards 
Brenda had persuaded him to escort her 
to the meeting. She feared for the safety 
of her father, and dreaded lest his speech 
should draw on him the anger of the mob. 
The colonel had declined to come, swear- 
ing in true military style that he would at- 
tend no meeting meant to belittle England. 

' Is Mr van Zwieten here ? ' asked 
Brenda, looking over the sea of heads. 

'I don't think so,' replied Wilfred, whose 
pale face was flushed with excitement. 
' He is too clever to sympathise openly 
with the cause he advocates. No ! his 
task is to condemn the Boers in public 
and to support them in private.' 

' Have you found out anything about 
him, Wilfred?' 

' Yes. He lives ostensibly in Duke 
Street, St James' ; but he has other rooms 
in Westminster, where he passes under 
another name. There he receives all kinds 
o f queer people — especially at night.' 



' Spies ?' asked Brenda, so low as not 
to be heard ,by those near her. 

'I believe so. He calls himself Jones, 
and a good many spies go up to see Mr 
Jones. The scoundrel ! To plot treason 
almost in the shadow of the Clock Tower ! 
But I do not blame him so much as those 
who are betraying their country. After 
all, Van Zwieten is a foreigner, and natu- 
rally hates us ; but there are Englishmen, 
Brenda — Englishmen born and bred — 
who are selling secrets for Transvaal gold. 
I'd hang the lot if I could ! ' 

' Hush, Wilfred, don't speak so loud. 
Can you prove that Van Zwieten is a spy ? ' 

' Not yet ; but I have a plan in my 
head to trap him.' 

' He will not be easily trapped.' 

'No; he is a cunning beast, but I'll 
get the better of him yet. When I tear 
his mask off he'll be forced to leave Lon- 
don. Hullo ! there's your father ! ' 

Brenda turned pale as that familiar lean 
figure appeared on the platform. He was 
saluted with a groan. Several Union 
Jacks were waved defiantly in his face, 
and a few bars of ' God Save the Queen ' 
were sung with lusty strength. A small 
knot of people stood round him. Taking 
off his hat, he advanced to the edge of the 
platform. A few expressions, such as 'God- 
fearing farmers,' 'greedy capitalists,' 'the 
Jingoism of Chamberlain,' ' the treachery 
of Rhodes,' caught Brenda's ear, and then 
her father's voice was drowned in a roar 
of cheering and singing. In vain did Mr 
Scarse hold up his hand for silence ; in 
reply he was assailed with insults, and a 
lifeguardsman was shouldered and passed 
along the heads of the crowd, a red spot 
of colour amid the neutral tints. Union 
Jacks were waved, ' Rule Britannia ' was 
sung. Many a groan was there for Kruger ; 
many a cheer for ' Joe ' ; and the close- 
locked crowd, maddened by the sound 
of its own voice, rolled and swung like a 
stormy sea. 

' Pore thing ! pore thing ! ' said an old 
woman near Brenda, ' I 'ope they won't 
chuck him into the fountings.' 

« Oh, Wilfred ! ' gasped the girl, terrified 
for her father's safety. 

But the suggestion met with the ap- 
proval of the crowd, and passed from 
mouth to mouth until it reached those 
immediately under the fountain. A roar 



44 



A Traitor in London 



went up to the sky, and several enthusiasts 
endeavoured to clamber up the platform. 
The police beat them back, and order was 
restored for the moment. Then, as an 
appeal to the chivalry of the mob, a grim- 
looking female with a black bag came 
forward to speak. She commenced a 
highly abusiveharangue, but it was drowned 
in laughter and a recommendation, in 
terms purely colloquial, that she should 
go home and tend any young offspring 
she might chance to have. The pro-Boers 
began to look disconsolate. Each effort 
they made to speak was abortive. A sailor 
jumped on the parapet opposite Morley's 
Hotel and waved a Union Jack. The mob 
saw and cheered, and roared out the 
National Anthem. Some threw apples 
and oranges at the orators on the platform, 
who promptly dodged behind the Column 
and endeavoured to obtain a hearing on 
the other side, but with even less success. 

On losing sight of her father, Brenda 
wanted to try and follow him; and Wilfred, 
the patriot, although he hated Scarse, and 
would gladly have seen him ducked, could 
not but sympathise with the girl's anxiety. 
So, extricating themselves from the crowd, 
they struggled downward towards the 
lower part of the square. There a knot 
of talkers attracted their attention. 

' Wot I say is, Why does Rhodes want 
to fight a lot of 'ard-working coves like 
them Boers?' said one begrimed ruffian. 
' They're the same as us, ain't they ? ' 

' No, they ain't,' grunted his neighbour. 
' They won't give Englishmen votes, an' 
we made their bloomin' country, we did.' 

' I 'old by Gladstone, I tell you—' 

'Garn ! you and your Gladstone ; he'd 
ha' given away Windsor Castle if he cud.' 

' Ho ! Wot price Majuba ! ' 

'Ah ! we must wipe out that disgrace,' 
said a clearer and apparently more highly- 
educated speaker. 

Then the fun began. Some abused 
Gladstone as the cause of all the trouble, 
others made extensive demands upon 
their vocabulary for a due definition of 
Mr Chamberlain. It speedily became 
apparent that none of them knew what 
they were talking about. Wilfred laughed, 
and the begrimed one straightway resented 
his laughter. 

'We don't want no tall 'ats 'ere,' he 
yelped. 



'No, you want sense,' retorted Burton. 
But, unwilling to involve Brenda in a 
row, he pushed on. As they passed away 
they heard a scuffle, and looked back to 
see that the dirty man had at last his 
heart's desire, so far as to have found an 
antagonist. But even thus early in the 
game he was getting the worst of it. At 
length, having apparently had enough, he 
gave forth a lusty yell for ' police, ' and 
was duly rescued in a battered condition, 
and still arguing. Brenda felt anxious. 
The mob all round was showing signs of 
restiveness. 

In another part of the square some pro- 
Boer orators spoke with more chance of 
a hearing. They drew the usual picture 
of a small toiling community, of unscrupu- 
lous capitalists, the worship of gold, the 
rights of the Boers to arrange affairs in 
their own house, and the iniquity of a 
mighty Empire crushing a diminutive 
State, wholly unable to defend itself. 

Furious at the falsehoods which he 
heard all round him, Wilfred lost his head 
altogether, and, despite all Brenda's en- 
treaty, got up on the parapet and raised 
his voice. 

' Lies, lies ! all lies, I say. All that 
we demand are equal rights for the white 
man and kindly treatment of the black. 
The Boer is a brutal bully. He beats 
the black man, and treats him like a dog. 
Kruger and his gang have accumulated 
millions through the industry of those to 
whom they refuse the franchise. It is 
they who want war, not England ; and if 
we refuse their challenge, then will they 
try to drive us out of Africa. It is not 
the Transvaal Republic which is in danger 
but the Empire. Continental Powers, 
who hate us, are urging these misguided 
people to do what they dare not do them- 
selves, hoping to profit by their folly and 
attack us when we are hampered in South 
Africa. Don't believe these liars, men ! 
They betray their own country, and a 
good half of them are paid with Transvaal 
gold for doing so. Spies ! Traitors, all of 
them. Duck them here in the fountains.' 

Then, having thus relieved his feelings, 
Wilfred took the girl's hand and pushed 
On hurriedly ; and soon they were lost to 
view in the crowd. 

But the effect of his words was im- 
mediate. The pro-Beer charvpiens, try- 



The Mass Meeting 



45 



ing to make gcid their cause, were not al- 
lowed speech. As quickly as they opened 
their mouths the mob shouted them down. 
Some ugly rushes were, made in their 
direction, and they were hustled roughly. 
A couple of men and women, beginning 
to see they were in danger of being 
chucked, shouted for the police of the 
very Government they had been abus- 
ing. A body of constables forced itself 
through the crowd and formed a cordon 
round these political martyrs. They were 
escorted to the fringe of the mob, looking 
pale and nervous — anything, in fact, but 
heroic. And the language with which 
they were saluted was not such as need 
be set down here. 

Meanwhile their friends at the Column 
were faring badly enough. The police 
began to see that the temper of the mob 
was rising, and insisted that the speaking 
— or rather the attempts to speak — should 
stop. The orators refused, and stuck to j 
their platform ; they were driven off from 
one side and they climbed up the other. ! 
Missiles began to fly, the crowd to growl, 
and some rough-and-tumble fights took 
place. At length the police, as in the 
former case, marched them away down 
Northumberland Avenue. The crowd 
which followed was so excited that the 
martyrs, afraid of the storm which, by 
their own folly, they had raised, tried to 
enter one of the hotels. But the porters 
here were prepared, and drove them 
back, and the wretched creatures — Scarse 
amongst them — were beaten to and ho 
like tennis balls. Finally, they managed 
to gain the shelter of a club-house, where 
they held an indignation meeting on their 
own account. But nothing on earth and 
above it would have convinced them that 
they had got just what they deserved. 

Brenda was in a great state of alarm for 
her farhcr. But Wilfred consoled her as 
well as he could. 'He will be all right,' 
he said, cheerfully; 'the police will look 
after him.' 

'He may be hurt.' 

' He should have thought of that before 
he pla>ed the fool. But he will not be 
hurt ; those sort of people never are. I 
beg your pardon, Brenda. After all, he 
is your father.' 

' He honestly believes in the Boers, 
Wilfred.' 



' I know he does. He'd find out his 
mistake if he went to live amongst them. 
I wish I could have had half an hour at 
them, Brenda,' he said, with sparkling 
eyes. ' I would have done but for you.' 

' You said quite enough, Wilfred. 1 was 
afraid the police would arrest you.' 

' Arrest me! Come, that's good, seeing 
I spoke for the Government. What about 
your father and his wretched friends who 
are abusing their own country ? ' 

' There are two sides to every question.' - 

'Not to this one,' replied Wilfred, who 
was easily excited on the subject. 

Brenda decided that it was best not to 
contradict him. He was so highly strung 
that in moments of this kind he was not 
altogether accountable either forhis speech 
or actions. He would flash into a rage on 
the slightest provocation, and contradict 
everyone around him, like some hysterical 
woman. No doctor could call him insane, 
since he knew well howto conduct himself, 
and ; was not the prey of any hallucination. 
But his brain was delicately balanced, and 
worry or persistent irritation brought him 
very near the borders of insanity. For 
this reason he led a quiet life, and saw 
but few people. The magnitude and 
whirl of London always overwrought him, 
and Brenda regretted now that she had 
argued with him at all. 

'Have it your own way, Wilfred,' she 
said, taking his arm. 'But I hope my 
father is safe. I have seen enough, so 
you might take me home.' 

'All right. Don't be angry with me, 
Brenda. But the silly views your father 
takes annoy me.' 

' I am not angry with you, Wilfred. 
Come along; let's get back now.' 

' About time too, ' said he. ' The whole 
thing's a farce.' 

' Ah ! I agree with you there, Mr Bur- 
ton,' said a voice, and Brenda turned to 
find Van Zwieten at her elbow. ' How 
are you, Miss Scarse ? ' he asked quietly, 
as though nothing unusual had passed be- 
tween them at their last meeting. 'And 
what do you think of this siliy business ? ' 

'I think it just what you call it— silly,' 
replied Brenda, coldly. ' But I did not 
expect to hear you say so.' 

'You ought to be pleased that your 
friends are fighting your battles,' said Wil- 
fred. 



46 



A Traitor in London 



VanZwieten flicked a grain of dust from 
off his frock coat and raised his eyebrows. 
' My friends ! ' he repeated. 'Oh, none of 
those who spoke are my friends, unless you 
refer to Mr Scarse. But of course I don't 
agree with his views. I am an Imperialist, ' 
he said smoothly. 

Remembering the disclosures he had 
made to her, Brenda was astounded at 
the effrontery of the man; but Wilfred 
understood. 

' Of course you are an Imperialist,' he 
said ; ' it pays better ! ' 

' Quite so,' assented Van Zwieten ; ( it 
pays better — much better. But you talk 
in riddles.' 

'.Do I ? I think you can guess them 
then,' retorted Wilfred, ' and I don't think 
you will find Oom Paul will benefit by this 
meeting. It will show him how verymuch 
of one mind the English people are, and how 
they are determined to teach him a lesson.' 

' Oh, a .lesson, eh ? ' Van Zwieten 
laughed. ' It is to be hoped Oom Paul 
will prove an apt pupil ; but I fear he is 
too old to learn.' 

' And Leyds — is he too old ? He pulls 
the strings ! ' 

' What strings ? ' asked the Dutchman, 
blankly. 

' The strings to make you dance ! ' 

In spite of Van Zwieten's command of 
his temper, Wilfred was making him angry. 
This of itself Brenda did not mind in the 
least; but she did mind a quarrel, and 
toward that she could see these two were 
fast drifting. Moreover, owing to the 
raised tones of Wilfred's voice, a crowd 
was collecting. Mr van Zwieten did not 
lookaltogether comfortable. He despised 
Wilfred as a mere boy ; but even so, boy 
or not, this young fellow, with his fearless 
nature and frantic patriotism, might put 
highly undesirable notions into the heads 
of those around. And most of them were 
more or less inflammable just then. The 
fountains, too, were close at hand. 

'Come along, Wilfred,' said Brenda. 
' Do let us get home.' 

But before he could reply, a hubbub 
arose amid the crowd not far distant, and 
they turned in that direction. From out 
the jeers and laughter an angry voice 
could be heard holding forth in abuse of 
the Government and in praise of the Boers. 

Then the crowd parted, surged along, 



and Brenda saw advancing a tall, thin 
man. He wore a snuff-coloured coat, 
and a yard or so of crape wrapped round 
his throat like a scarf. And his face — 
how like it was to that of her father ! 

' Oh ! ' she cried, grasping Wilfred's arm, 
' that is the man who — ' 

' Hush ! ' Van Zwieten whispered 
fiercely. ' Don't accuse him in public ! ' 



CHAPTER XI 

A STARTLING DISCOVERY 

In her anxiety to solve the mystery which 
surrounded this man, so like her father, 
Brenda would, but for the publicity of the 
position, have rushed forward and ques- 
tioned him. Moreover, he began at once 
to speak loudly in abuse of the Govern- 
ment and in defence of the Boer Republic. 

' It is the capitalists who want this war,' 
he cried excitedly ; ' Rhodes and Beit and 
all that gang of scoundrels. Chamberlain 
is merely playing into their hands. Their 
villainous scheme is to take the gold mines 
from these unoffending people, and they 
are prepared to massacre them in their 
greed for gold. Kruger is — ' 

* Shut your mouth ! ' shouted a big, 
scowling man, thrusting himself forward. 
' We'll make you if you don't.' 

' I'm not afraid — I'm ready to stand by 
the truth,' screeched the man with the 
crape scarf. ' I mourn for England — the 
victim of a corrupt set of time-serving 
scoundrels. I wear black for her. Woe 
to her, I say, and her greed for gold — 
woe to her vile Government — ' 

With a fierce growl the mob flung for- 
ward. Brenda cried out. It was as 
though her father himself were being 
attacked. With a bound she placed her- 
self before the old man. 

' Leave him ! Don't touch him ! ' she 
cried. ' He's mad ! ' 

' I'm not mad,' cried the man. ' I 
protest against tyranny and the cursed 
greed that would destroy a nation. You 
crouch at the feet of those who will drain 
your blood — cowardly hounds all of you ! ' 

' 'Ere ! Let me get at 'im. Stand away, 
laidy ! ' 

' No, no, he is old and weak. Oh, Mr 
van Zwieten, save him.' 



A Startling Discovery 



47 



Seeing an opportunity of posing as a 
hero at a small cost, the Dutchman placed 
the old man behind him, and stood be- 
tween him and the mob which was closing 
in. ' Leave him to me — I'll see to him ! ' 

' He's a furriner ! ' yelled a small man. 

' Hit his head ! ' 

'I'ma naturalised Englishman,' shouted 
Van Zwieten, ' but I won't let you touch 
this man ! ' 

' Woe — woe to the wicked Government 
who are about to dye their garments in 
the blood of a just people ! ' shrieked the 
old man, waving his arms wildly. 

Then Wilfred took hold of him and 
hurried him away. ' Hold your tongue, ' 
he said roughly. ' You'll get into trouble.' 

' I will seal my protest with my blood ! ' 

' Stand back ! ' shouted Van Zwieten, 
opposing those who would have followed. 
' Hi, constable ! ' 

' Why, it's Van the cricketer,' cried the 
big man, joyfully. ' He's all right, boys. 
Seen 'im carry 'is bat out many a time, 
I 'ave.' 

' Hooray for Van ! ' roared the fickle 
crowd, and as half a dozen policemen 
were pushing their way towards the centre 
of disturbance, it veered round to cheering 
Van Zwieten. 

' Spy ! Spy ! He's a spy ! ' shouted a 
voice that sounded to Brenda uncom- 
monly like Wilfred's. 

The crowd growled again, and darted 
forward. But the police were now pushing 
right and left. Van Zwieten, who had 
changed colour at the cry, stepped back 
and was swallowed up by the concourse of 
people. Wilfred had let the old man go, 
and the zealot was again raging, waving 
his crape scarf like a banner. 

Brenda, terrified at finding herself alone 
in the midst of the mob, kept close to 
the big Dutchman. 

Suddenly Wilfred, appearing, as it were, 
from nowhere, caught her arm. 

' Come away ! come away ! There may 
be trouble,' he cried, drawing her aside 
on to the steps by St Martin's Church. 
Afar offshe could see Van Zwieten leading 
the old man down a side street, and the 
little band of constables fighting with the 
mob, who were now inclined to resent any 
interference. Brenda was in despair. 

' I want to ask that old man who he is,' 
she cried. But Wilfred held her back in 



spite of her efforts to follow the Dutch- 
man. 

' Brenda ! Don't be foolish. It's dan- 
gerous. The people are getting their 
blood up.' 

' But that old man killed Mr Malet. I 
will know who he is.' 

' Van Zwieten will find out.' 

'I daresay,' said Brenda, tartly. 'But 
he won't tell you or me.' 

' It's too late now to think of that. 
Come up here, and let us get a hansom. 
If you got into trouble, Brenda, Harold 
would never forgive me ! ' 

And Brenda knew that this was so, and 
she guessed too that Wilfred was chafing 
under his responsibility for her safety. 
She therefore stepped into a hansom with 
him. When they were rattling along 
Piccadilly she asked him if it was he who 
had called out that Van Zwieten was a spy. 

'Yes, it was I,' admitted Wilfred, in a 
fiery tone. ' And I should have liked to 
see the crowd go for the big brute.' 

'I don't like Van Zwieten myself, as 
you know,' Brenda said ; ' all the same, 
Wilfred, it is only fair to say he behaved 
very well over that old man.' 

'He knew there was no danger, that 
the police were about. He wanted to 
show up as a hero in your eyes, Brenda. 
For my part, I wish he had been lynched 
for a spy. I hate the man.' 

' People don't lynch now in England, 
Wilfred.' 

' They would have done it to-day on 
small encouragement. It was lucky for 
Van Zwieten that he is a popular cricketer, 
and that they recognised him as such. 
Otherwise he would not have got off so 
easily. But I'll catch him yet ! ' 

' How you do hate him, Wilfred ! ' 

' Hate him ! Of course I do. Here 
he is accepting the hospitality of England, 
and spying out all our weak points to use 
them against us should there be a war. 
I suspected him long ago from some words 
he let fall, and I have kept a watch on him 
ever since. He has haunted Woolwich, 
Portsmouth and Erith, and has made 
friends with privates and officers alike, 
and he has half a hundred creatures at 
his beck and call, who are poking and 
prying about. I daresay out at Pretoria 
they know more about England and her 
resources than those here whose duty and 



4 8 



A Traitor in London 



business it is. They will await the right 
moment, then they'll strike; and unless I'm 
much mistaken they'll strike pretty hard.' 

'But we are not unprepared, Wilfred.' 

The young man shook his head gloom- 
ily. ' I myself have talked with many of 
our officers, ' he said, ' and we are not so 
well armed as we should be. Since the 
Crimea, we have had no big war ; and the 
number of easy victories we have had 
have made us over-confident. Of the 
valour of Englishmen I have no fear. 
They can fight as their fathers fought with 
true bull-dog courage. But nowadays 
science as well as grit is needed for victory, 
and our War Office is so sleepy and tied 
up with red tape that it doesn't keep our 
armaments up to the mark as it should do. 
The Boers are armed with the Mauser 
rifle. Our troops — but there is no need 
to talk technically to you, Brenda. I can 
only say that if we have a war, it won't be 
the military promenade to Pretoria that 
many people expect it to be.' 

' But the Transvaal is quite a small 
state, Wilfred.' 

' I know. Still it is more than probable 
that the Orange Free State will join them. 
Also all over Cape Colony and Natal there 
are hordes of disloyal Dutch ready to rise 
at the first chance. Besides, Leyds is 
stirring up the Continent against us, and 
here Van Zwieten is gathering information 
and sending it in cypher to Pretoria. Oh, 
there's trouble ahead, Brenda. The 
Uitlander business is only a pretext for 
war. If we don't proclaim war, Kruger 
and Steyn will.' 

' Let them. We will crush them and 
punish them.' 

'I should think so,' cried Wilfred, his 
dark eyes blazing with fervour. ' I have 
never any fear for England. Though the 
world were against her, she would conquer 
— all the world was against her at the end 
of the last century. But we shall have our 
Waterloo over again. God bless England ! ' 

' If there were war, Wilfred, would you 
go out ? ' 

'As a newspaper correspondent,' he 
replied. ' I have made all my arrange- 
ments with The Morning Planet. Oh, 
yes, I'll go to the front, and if I die, it 
will be for our country. Harold of course 
will go.' 

' I am proud that he should — yes, even 



though he should never return — and he 
is all in all to me ! ' 

' He could have no nobler death,' said 
Wilfred, coldly. 

' Oh, but it would be terrible, Wilfred 
— terrible. Remember I am only a 
woman; and it takes a great deal of 
courage — ' 

'You are an Englishwoman, and Eng- 
lishwomen are always bravest when there 
is danger at hand. Don't cry, Brenda. 
I should not talk like this. My feelings 
carry me away. Let me be quiet for a 
time, or Mrs St Leger will be alarmed if 
I arrive in such a state of excitement.' 

Not another word would he speak on 
the way to Kensington, but he curled 
himself up in the corner of the cab, his 
eyes feverishly bright, and his face pale 
with emotion. The patriotic fire which 
consumed him was wearing out his frail 
body. Brenda could not understand this 
' man with one idea.' Her love for her 
country was great, but it was not to her 
the one devouring passion. To Wilfred, 
England was as a well-beloved woman — 
a creature of flesh and blood. Every 
blow levelled at her made him quiver and 
turn pale. For her sake he would will- 
ingly have died. He hated the Conti- 
nental nations, but most of all he hated 
Van Zwieten, who was working darkly for 
her ill. If war were proclaimed, Wilfred 
promised himself that he would be in the 
fighting. Van Zwieten, who was no 
coward, would be there also, and if per- 
chance they met, why, England would be 
revenged if he had to shed his life blood 
to avenge her. He changed his mind 
about calling on Mrs St Leger, and kept 
the cab waiting while he said good-bye 
to Brenda at the door. 

' If you find out anything about Van 
Zwieten, you'll let me know?' she en- 
treated, as they shook hands. 

'Yes; but I may be a week or two 
preparing my plans. He is so infernally 
clever, that it will take a lot to trap him. 
But why are you so anxious to know 
about him, Brenda ? ' 

1 He means harm to Harold.' 

' Nonsense. This isn't the Dark Age. 
He is powerless to hurt Harold.' 

' I'm afraid he can, Wilfred ! On the 
night of Mr Malet's murder Harold was 
out of doors. Mr van Zwieten has more 



A Startling Discovery 



49 



than hinted to me that he can and will 
accuse him of it ! ' 

An angry fire glittered in Wilfred's eye. 
' I'll soon put a stop to that,' he said, 
between his teeth. ' If I can prove Van 
Zwieten is a spy, he will have enough to 
do to look after himself without troubling 
about other people.' 

'I'm sure of that. And, Wilfred — see 
if you can find my father ; and tell him 
to come and see me. I am so anxious 
about him.' 

'Oh, he's all right.' Wilfred really 
could not bring himself to be sorry for 
Mr Scarse, tainted as he was with the 
heresy of Little England. 

' I'll call at his rooms, Brenda, and 
leave a message if you like. But I can't 
see him ; I might be tempted to tell him 
my mind. Good-bye.' 

He jumped into the cab so as to give 
Brenda no opportunity for further argu- 
ment. It was natural that she should be 
anxious about her father. But for her, 
indeed, he would have rejoiced had the 
mob succeeded in ducking Mr Scarse. 
Bad as was Van Zwieten, Mr Scarse was, 
to his thinking, worse, for he was betray- 
ing his own country with his rotten 
politics. It was strange and inconceivable 
to Wilfred that a man born an English- 
man should bring himself to abuse and 
condemn the very land he should have 
been proud of. 

Strangely enough, he met the object 
of his th-'-ughts as his cab turned into Star 
Street. The old man, looking ill and 
unhappy, was stealing homeward, his eyes 
fixed on the ground before him. Wilfred 
was pleased to see that the failure of the 
meeting had gone home to him. He only 
hoped he would keep the memory of it 
by him for future guidance. The cab 
pulled up with a jerk, and he leaned 
out. 

' Mr Scarse, can I speak with you ? ' 

Scarse looked up irritably, and recog- 
nising Wilfred, came to the edge of the 
pavement. He knew the young man's 
passion for politics, and looked but sourly 
upon him. 

' What is it ? ' 

' Brenda thinks you might have got into 
trouble, and is anxious to hear that you 
are safe. Please send her word.' 

' Thank you,' said Mr Scarse, loftily, 



i _ 



'there is no cause for alarm. I will attend 
to the matter. Were you at the meeting 
to-day ? ' 

' I was,' retorted Wilfred, shortly, ' and 
I was glad to see it was a failure. Drive 
on, cabby,' and before the older man had 
recovered from his anger, the hansom was 
swinging round the corner. 

'Rude young man,' muttered Mr Scarse, 
wearily mounting the steps to his cham- 
bers. ' Never shall I consent to Brenda 
marrying his brother ! ' 

In his study he poured himself out a 
glass of brandy. The events of the after- 
noon had tried him severely, and he looked 
older and more frail than ever. He was 
deeply mortified by the discovery that the 
popular feeling was all against the Boers, 
and he recognised that war was certain. 
Still he hoped that if England were the 
one to proclaim it Europe might intervene, 
and for his own part resolved to throw all 
possible obstacles in the way. Scarse was 
a true patriot. He could not have loved 
England more had he been born a German 
or a Frenchman ! 

He lay down for an hour. The sleep 
refreshed him, and he awoke with a clearer 
brain. On returning to his study he set 
about writing a letter to the Press, alleging 
that the failure of the meeting was due to 
a Jingoistic conspiracy. While engaged 
on this precious epistle, Van Zwieten was 
announced, and Mr Scarse came forward 
with outstretched hands. 

'Ah, my dear fellow ! I am so glad to 
see you. What a terrible afternoon it has 
been ! A conspiracy, Van Zwieten — a 
conspiracy ! The voice of the people has 
been stifled, my dear friend.' 

' It didn't sound like it this afternoon,' 
said the Dutchman, drily. ' They all called 
for war. Well, if they want it, they shall 
have it. And won't they be sorry when 
they get it.' 

' No war — no war. I shall protest — ' 

' Oh, your protests won't do any good,' 
said the other, rudely ; ' the tide runs too 
strong for you to drive it back with a mob. 
But I didn't come here to talk politics, 
Mr Scarse.' 

' In that case I must ask you to go.' 
Mr Scarse was offended. ' I have much 
to do.' 

'You will have to lay it by then for the 
time being. I called to tell you thai I 

4 



5° 



A Traitor in London 



met a friend of yours to-day — yes, at the 
meeting.' 

' Who ? ' 

' That is what I want to hear from your 
lips. I know who he is from his own. 
He wears a yellow coat and a crape scarf.' 

Mr Scarse's face became grey, and he 
fell against the wall with staring eyes and 
extended hands. ' ' I don't know him— I 
assure you I don't ! ' he said hoarsely. 

' I think you do. He is the man who 
was in your study at Chippingholt on the 
night of the murder — the man whom you 
sent away by train. In a word, Mr Scarse, 
he is your brother — your twin brother ! ' 



CHAPTER XII 

A STORY OF THE PAST 

The old man sprang up with the light of 
fury in his pale eyes and flung himself on 
Van Zwieten. For an instant he was 
more than a match for the big Dutchman. 
' How dare you — I have no brother, ' he 
gasped. Then as suddenly this strength, 
born of anger, went out of him, and he 
became weak as a child. Van Zwieten 
picked him up like a baby and flung him 
roughly into a chair. 

' Sit there,' he said, sternly. ' I mean 
to know the whole of this story,' and he 
busied himself lighting the lamp. 
' There is — no — no story.' 
' There is, and, what's more, you will 
tell it to me.' 

' I won't,' cried Mr Scarse, shivering 
and forgetting his previous denial. ' You 
can't force me to speak.' 

' I can — I will,' said the Dutchman, 
grimly. Then, the lamp being lighted, 
he sat down in an arm-chair on the other 
side of the fireplace opposite to his host 
and produced a cigar. ' Begin, please.' 

Scarse staggered to his feet — he was 
shaken by his own nerves and Van Zwie- 
ten's rough treatment — and moved slowly 
towards the door. The Dutchman rose 
and ran past him with a lightness and 
speed surprising in so heavy a man. He 
reached the door before Mr Scarse did. 
The next moment it was locked and the 
key in Van Zwieten's pocket. ' Go back 
to your seat, please,' said Van Zwieten, 
politely. 



' I won't — I am master here,' cried the 
old man, his voice shrill with anger. 
' What do you mean by treating me like 
this ? I'll call the police.' 

The Dutchman pulled out the key and 
held it towards Scarse. 'As you please,' 
he said, with a sneer. ' Call the police 
and I'll give you in charge.' 

' Give me in charge, you villain ! — for 
what ? ' 

' For murdering Gilbert Malet. Aha, 
my dear friend, you did not count on my 
knowing that, did you ? You are quite 
unaware that I followed you from your 
cottage into the orchards, where 
you — ' 

' I did not — I did not ! ' wailed Scarse, 
shrinking back. 

'No, you did not,' retorted Van Zwie- 
ten, ' but you were near the spot where 
Malet was killed, and near it about the 
time he was shot. You will find it diffi- 
cult to refute my evidence, if I am com- 
pelled to give it. On the whole, Mr 
Stuart Scarse, I think you had better sit 
down and talk sensibly.' 

Scarse glared like an angry cat. But 
physically and morally the Dutchman 
was too much for him. With an attempt 
at dignity he returned to his seat. 

' I am at a loss to understand this ex- 
traordinary behaviour, Mr van Zwieten,'" 
he said, in his most stately manner, ' and 
I deny the shameful accusation you have 
made. Perhaps you will be kind enough 
to apologise, and leave my rooms.' 

' My dear friend, I shall do neither.' 
Van Zwieten carefully lighted his cigar. 
' I am waiting to hear the story.' 

' What story ? ' asked the other, wilfully 
misunderstanding. 

' The story about your brother and 
his visit to Chippingholt — to murder our 
dear friend. I know some of it from 
your brother, but — ' 

' I have no brother, I tell you ! ' 

' Oh, yes, I think so. A twin brother 
named — Robert — Robert Scarse.' 

'He is dead to me.' 

' Ah, that is quite another thing. He 
has come to life for the purpose of throw- 
ing some light on this mystery. Indeed, 
I think you had better tell me why he 
murdered Gilbert Malet.' 
' He did not murder him.' 
'Oh, yes, he did; and I should like 



A Story of the Past 



5i 



to have details, please — his motive and 
all that.' 

' I refuse to give them to you.' 

Van Zwieten rose and buttoned his 
coat. 'Very good,' said he; 'then I 
shall see a magistrate and tell him all 
I know.' 

' What do you know ? ' 
' Sufficient to have R ubert arrested for 
the murder, and you as his accomplice.' 

Mr Scarse shivered ag.iin, and bit his 
lip. Then he seemed to make up his 
mind.' 

' Sit down. Don't be in a hurry. I 
will tell you all I can. Of course you 
will keep secret what I tell you.' 

'Of course ! I never talk without gocd 
reason. So you have a twin brother ? ' 

' Yes ; Robert. He is — he — he is not 
in his right mind.' 

' So I should think from his talk and 
his extraordinary apparel. A black crape 
scarf is quite original. By the way, your 
daughter saw him to-day.' 

' Brenda ? ' cried Scarse, horrified. 
'Then she knows — ' 

' Nothing — except that Robert is won- 
derfully like you. I got him away before 
she could speak to him. This I did for 
your sake — and my own ! ' 

'You wish to make quite sure of getting 
Brenda — to force me ! ' 

' Not exactly that,' smiled Van Zwieten, 
' since I know that you are already quite 
willing she should marry me. But I wish 
to use the knowledge to force her into 
giving up Burton and becoming my wife.' 

' You would tell her of Robert's exist- 
ence ? ' 

' Not if I could help myself,' said the 
Dutchman, politely. 'Believe me, my 
dear friend, I am very discreet. You 
can safely confide in me.' 

' It seems I am forced to,' grumbled 
Mr Scarse, ungraciously. 'What is it 
you particularly wish to know ? ' 

' The whole story about your brother, 
and why you deny him. I am sure it 
will be most interesting. Go on, please, 
I am waiting.' 

Mr Scarse looked at his tyrant savagely. 
He would dearly have liked to refuse, but 
he realised that he was on perilous ground. 
Van Zwieten knew just enough to be 
dangerous. He must not be allowed to 
make use of his knowledge, even if he 



had to be told more. Besides, Mr Scarse 
was satisfied that for Brenda's sake he 
would keep quiet. Therefore he made a 
virtue of necessity and launched at once 
into a family history, of which in no other 
circumstances would he have spoken to 
any living soul. It was the very fact of 
the Dutchman's having it in his power to 
force his confidence that angered him. 
No man likes to be coerced. 

' I don't think the story will interest 
you much, ' he said sulkily ; ' but such as 
it is, I will relate it. Robert Scarse is my 
twin brother, and is as like me as it is 
possible for one man to be like another. 
His appearance deceived young Burton 
and the Chippingholt folk.' 

' I know they took him for you. And 
on account of that scarf they paid you 
the compliment of thinking you were out 
of your mind.' 

Mr Scarse shrugged his shoulders. 'As 
if I cared,' he said contemptuously. ' My 
speeches in the House prove that I am 
sane enough. Well, Robert is my brother, 
and I was — I am — very fond of him. My 
sister Julia — Mrs St Leger, you know — 
never liked him, and when we cast him off 
she made up her mind to regard him as 
dead. She never even admits that she 
has a brother. I am her only relative — 
at least the only one she acknowledges.' 

'And why, pray, was Robert cast off 
thus, and by his affectionate twin ? ' 

'Don't be sarcastic, Van Zwieten, it 
does not suit you,' snapped Scarse. ' My 
brother was a bad lot. At school and 
college he led the authorities a devil of a 
dance until he was expelled. When he 
came to London he took to gambling and 
drinking. I was never like that. My 
one desire was to get into Parliament, 
where my father had been before me, and 
serve my country. My sister married St 
Leger — he was a subaltern then — and 
went out to India. My mother died, 
and there was no one to check Robert's 
pranks. My father paid his debts so often 
that we became quiteimpoverished. That 
is why I am so poor.' 

' Are you poor ? ' asked Van Zwieten, 
thinking regretfully that Brenda— sweet 
as she was — would have no dowry. 

' As poor as a church mouse. I mar- 
ried a woman with six hundred a year, 
and out of that Brenda has two hundred 



52 



A Traitor in London 



a year. I can't touch it. What with the 
other four hundred and my own money 
I have but a thousand a year all told — 
little enough for a man of my position. 
Of course, when I die, rny thousand a 
year will go to Brenda.' 

' Ah ! ' said Van Zwieten, with much 
satisfaction. He was sufficiently Dutch 
to be very fond of money. 

'You needn't look so pleased, Van 
Zwieten. Even if you do marry Brenda 
— which I doubt, since she hates you so 
— you won't get my money. I'll live a 
long time yet, and, in any case, I'll settle it 
on her so that her husband — whoever he 
may be — can't touch it.' 

'Quite right, Mr Scarse. But about 
Robert? Please go on.' 

' Well, Robert crowned his pranks by 
committing forgery, and my father had to 
pay I d n't know how many thousands 
to hush the matter up. You can make 
no use of this admission, Mr van Zwieten, 
since the man whose name was forged 
died long ago and the papers are all 
destroyed. Robert went abroad after 
that, and my father cut him off with a 
shilling. He forbade his name to be 
mentioned, and declared he was no son 
of his. Mrs St Leger acted in the same 
way, and I followed suit. I could do 
nothing else — if I had, my father would 
have disinherited me.' 

' Most affectionate twin ! ' 

'Don't talk like that,' cried Mr Scarse, 
angrily. ' Who are you to judge me ? I 
still love my brother— after all, he is my 
own flesh and blood, and nearer and 
dearer to me than it is possible for you 
to imagine. But he is supposed to be 
dead these thirty and more years, and why 
should I bring him forth into the world 
only to be disgraced? I allow him a 
small income, and under another name 
he is as happy as ever he will be. By the 
way,' i.e broke off suddenly, ' how did you 
find out his real name ? ' 

• Oh, I saw the resemblance and made 
use of my knowledge of his being in 
Chippingholt to force him into confessing 
the truth. I will tell you about that later 
on. Go on with your story, which is truly 
remarkable.' 

'Truly criminal, I think,' Mr Scarse 
said gloomily ; ' a nice family history for 
a sedate English gemlcman to have. I 



wonder what my constituents would say 
if they heard it ? Ah, there is a skeleton 
in every house. In a way, it is a relief to 
me to talk of it even to you, Van Zwieten. 
Mrs St Leger will never mention or listen 
to the subject.' 

'Well, well, my friend,' — Van Zwieten 
was becoming impatient of this digression, 
— ' what did your brother do when he was 
cut off from his family ? ' 

' You'll never believe it when I tell you. 
Strange to say, he mended his ways. On 
the Continent — in Switzerland, I fancy — 
he came into contact with some Socialists 
and imbibed their ideas. He put away 
all his fine clothes and extravagant tastes, 
and became quite humble and simple.' 

' Because he had no money to do other- 
wise.' 

' There is something in that. Well, he 
lived among these Socialists for many a 
long year. He went to Russia and saw 
Tolstoi, knew Karl Marx, and threw him- 
self headlong into schemes whereby the 
human race was to be saved by all manner 
of devices, having at their basis the equit- 
able division of property. Then he 
married a young girl — a Swiss, the 
daughter of one of his socialistic friends 
— and returned to England. He was 
poor, so I helped him.' 

'Out of your poverty! — how noble!' 
sneered Van Zwieten, lighting a fresh 
cigar. 

' Oh, I was richer then. I was married, 
and my wife had money. Then she died 
a few years after Brenda was bornj and 1 
put the ch;ld to school as soon as she was 
of an age. She was brought up away from 
me,' he went on sadly; 'that is why I 
have such small influence over her.' 

'You will have influence enough to 
make her marry me, my friend.' 

'I doubt it — I doubt it. W T el!, my 
brother lived in a poor way, having but 
little money, besides which, his ideas 
were all against luxury. His wife was 
beautiful and frivolous, and had no love 
for him. She coveted money and position, 
neither of which he could give her, and 
would not if he could. That was ten 
years ago.' 

'Ah ! and what happened then ?' 

'My brother's wife met Malet. He 
was handsome, rich, and a scoundrel, and 
he ran away with her.' 



The End of the Story 



53 



Van Zwieten appeared astonished. 
' He wasn't then married to Lady Jenny?' 

' No, he married Lady Jenny later. But 
he ran off with my brother's wife to Italy. 
And the shock of his wife's treachery 
gave poor Robert brain fever.' 

' He loved her then ? ' , 

' He worshipped her. She was his life 
— he lived only to make her happy. Well, 
he had his recompense ! She deceived 
him, deserted him. Without a word she 
eloped with that scoundrel. Robert lost 
his reason, and I had to put him in an 
asylum. There he was for two years. 
Vv'nen he came out he went in search of 
his wife, for he still loved her. Malet by 
that time had come back alone, and shortly 
afterwards he married Lady Jenny. The 
reptile ! do you wonder that I hated him ? 
For Robert's sake I sawhimandforced him 
to tell the truth. I threatened to inform 
his wife of his past if he did not.' 

' But all that was before the marriage. 
Xo woman would care if—' 

' Lady Jenny would. She is half Italian 
and of an extremely jealous disposition. 
She loved Malet — God only knows why — 
and had she found out the truth then she 
would have left him. But Malet told me 
where to find my brother's wife, and I held 
my tongue.' 

' Did Lady Jenny ever learn this story ? ' 

' You shall hear. Robert found his wife 
and took her back. She was a complete 
wreck and terribly unhappy. They lived at 
Poplar under another name on the small 
income I could allow them. For years I 
saw very little of Robert. Then he took 
it into his head to pose as a prophet of evil, 
predicting woe to England. He assumed 
vhat snuff-coloured coat and wore the crape 
scarf as a symbol of his mourning. He 
was frequently in trouble with the police, 
and several times I helped him out of his 
scrape-.' 

Why don't you shut him up again ? ' 

' Ah ! my friend, how could I take the 
poor fellow from his dying wife ! All those 
years she was bedridden and dying slowly. 
I could not part them. Latterly he used 
to come now and again to see me at Chip- 
pinijholr, usually at night and in ordinary 
dre-:i. On one occasion he arrived in the 
daytime and met Lady Jenny. He knew 
her hy sight, and he told her the truth about 
his wife and her husband. That was a year 



ago. Lady Jenny was furious, and I be- 
lieve she quarrelled with her husband. 
After that they were never the same to 
one another. She loved him once, but 
after that she must have hated him. 
Robert was foolish to have told her. It 
could do no good.' 

'Well— what then?' 

' He went away, andformonthsl sawno- 
thingofhim. Thenextl heard was when 
Brenda told me Harold Burton had met a 
man like me with a crape scarf round his 
neck. From the description I recognised 
Robert, and knew that his mind must be 
more than ever unhinged for him to have 
come down in what he called his prophetic 
robes. I knew he would not come to see 
me till dusk, and I waited anxiously. But 
he did not appear, so I went out to look 
for him. It struck me that he might be 
lurking round the Manor gates to see Gil- 
bert Malet, and perhaps to do him an in- 
jury. I searched for a long time, and was 
caught in the storm. Then I found Robert 
in the orchards and led him home. He 
told me his news.' 

' What was his news ? ' 

' His wife was dead, and he had come 
to tell Malet.' 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE END OF THE STORY 

' His wife wasdead,'repeated Van Zwieten, 
without showing much sympathy, 'and he 
came down to tell you ! ' 

' No, he came to tell Malet.' 

' And kill him ? ' 

Scarse shook his head. ' I am telling 
you the truth,' he said. ' If Robert were 
guilty I should admit it. The poor fellow 
is crazy, as you know, and at the worst can 
only be put away in an asylum again. I am 
not afraid for him, but I fear a public 
scandal, which might shake ray position 
and force me to resign my seat. No, 
Robert did not kill the man. But he met 
him and told him the truth.' 

' About what hour was that ? ' 

'Shortly after nine o'clock. I met Robert 
wandering in the orchards at a quarter past, 
and I took him homewi.h me. Malet, ac- 
cording to the doctor's evidence, was shot 



54 



A Traitor in London 



about half- past nine. At that time Robert 
was conversing with me in my study.' 

'Buth'emetMalet/insistedVanZwieten, 
rather disappointed at this statement, which 
he had every reason to believe was true. 

' Yes, he met Malet, and told him that 
his victim was dead. Maletgrosslyinsulted 
Robert, and there was a quarrel. Unable 
to restrain his anger, Robert threw himself 
on Malet, but being an old man and feeble, 
he was easily overpowered and thrown to 
the ground. Robert told me this, and I 
believe it is the truth, because I found his 
crape scarf was torn — no doubt in the 
struggle. Malet left him lying on the wet 
grass and went off. He must have been 
shot almost immediately afterwards.' 

'By whom?' asked Van Zwieten, 
keenly. 

' Ah ! that is the question. I have my 
suspicions, but I may be wrong. But 
when Brenda came home with the news 
of a murder I guessed that the victim was 
Malet. The servants came to my study 
door and found it locked. Robert was 
with me then, and I had locked the door 
because I did not want him to be seen. 
They thought it was you I was talking to, 
and I said it was you. When afterwards 
you came in by the front door they knew, 
of course, that I had lied. Brenda asked 
me about that, and I still declared that 
you had been with me, but that you had 
gone out of the study window to the front 
door. I told her also that I was the man 
seen by Harold Burton.' 

' Why did you do that ? ' 

' Can't you guess ? To save Robert. 
He had a grievance against Malet,. he had 
been struggling with him, and there was 
every chance that he might be accused of 
the murder. There was only my evidence 
to prove his alibi, and as I was his brother 
I dreaded lest my word should be insuffi- 
cient. While the servants were with Brenda 
in the kitchen I went back to my study, 
put a coat of my own on Robert, and gave 
him a soft hat to pull down over his eyes. 
Then I gave him money, and told him to 
catch the ten- thirty train from Chipping- 
holt to Langton Junction.' 

' Which he did,' said Van Zwieten. ' I 
was watchingall that business through your 
study window. I followed Robert, won- 
dering who he was, and watched him go 
off by the train. Then I came home to 



the house and was admitted, as you 
know.' 

' Why did you not speak to me ? ' 

' It was not the proper moment to speak. 
I did not know who Robert was, and un- 
til I entered the house I knew nothing 
about the murder. I also guessed the 
victim was Malet, and I thought you must 
have hired this man to kill him, and hav- 
ing finished with him, had got him safely 
out of the way.' 

' Ah ! you were anxious to trap me ! ' 
cried Mr Scarse, angrily. 'Well, you 
know the truth now, and you can do no- 
thing. I burnt the crape scarf, and I told 
Brenda I was the man Harold had seen. 
If you choose to make a scandal, I shall 
tell my story exactly as I have told it to 
you, and prove Robert's innocence. At 
the worst he can only be put under re- 
straint again.' 

' I don't wish to make any scandal,' 
said the Dutchman, mildly, ' more especi- 
ally seeing that your daughter is to be my 
wife. You can rely on my silence if only 
on that account. But I'm glad I have 
heard this story now. I want to know 
who killed Malet.' 

'That I can't say,' said Mr Scarse, 
gloomily. ' But I suspect the wife ! ' 

' Lady Jenny ! — and why ? ' 

' Robert had a note written to her say- 
ing his wife was dead — he brought it with 
him. He sent it up to her by a boy that 
sam e evening. Of course the boy thought 
that Robert was me.' 

'I see ! ' cried Van Zwieten, with a 
shout. ' Robert wanted to stir up Lady 
Jenny into killing her husband. He is 
not so crazy, to my thinking. But I don't 
see how the intelligence of the wife's death 
would achieve it,' he added, shaking his 
head gravely. 'Lady Jenny knew all 
about the matter, and hadn't harmed her 
husband. There was no reason why she 
should do it on that particular night.' 

' That is what puzzles me, ' replied Mr 
Scarse. 'Lady Jenny was out on that 
night. She did not go to the Rectory to 
see Captain Burton as she had intended. 
For that she gave the very unsatisfactory 
reason that she was caught in the storm. 
Is it not probable that she met her hus- 
band and killed him ? ' 

' No. She would not carry a revolver. 
If they had already met and quarrelled 



The End of the Story 



55 



about this dead woman, then it is possible 
she might in her jealous rage have made 
an attack upon her husband with any- 
thing to her hand. But a revolver would 
argue deliberation, and there was nothing 
sufficiently strong in the note your brother 
had prepared for her to urge her to de- 
liberate murder.' 

' Burton found a piece of crape in the 
dead man's hand,' argued Scarse, 'and 
Lady Jenny was wearing crape for her 
father. There might have been a struggle, 
and the piece might have come off in his 
hand.' 

'Nonsense, Scarse. Ladies don't do 
that sort of thing. Besides, your brother 
wore crape too, and it is more likely that 
it was torn from his scarf. Malet might 
have kept it in his hand, without being 
conscious of it probably, when he went to 
his death.' 

' Then you think Lady Jenny is inno- 
cent ? ' 

' It looks like it,' Van Zwieten said with 
a queer smile ; ' but I'll let you know my 
opinion later on,' and he rose to go. 

'You will keep my secret,' entreated 
Scarse, following his visitor to the door. 

' Assuredly. I can make no use of it. 
I thought to find your brother guilty, but 
it seems he is not. The mystery deepens.' 

'But Lady Jenny?' 

'True — Lady Jenny. Well, we shall 
see,' and with this enigmatic speech the 
Dutchman withdrew. Mr Scarse went 
back to his chair, and until midnight sat 
looking drearily into the fire. But he was 
sufficiently thoughtful to send a letter to 
Brenda telling her of his safety in spite 
of the Trafalgar Square mob. 

For the next few days he went about 
like a man in a dream. Although he knew 
very well that Van Zwieten would hold 
his tongue — for he had nothing to gain by 
wagging it — he blamed himself for having 
been coerced into a confession. To him 
the Dutchman was almost a stranger. He 
had been drawn to the man because he 
was going out to theTransvaalasanofficial, 
and Mr Scarse had always sympathised 
with the little state in its struggle for in- 
dependence. The Dutchman had drawn 
so pathetic a picture of that struggle, had 
spoken so feelingly of the Boers as a patri- 
archal people who desired only to be left 
tending their flocks and herds, that the 



English politician was touched. He had 
sworn to do all in his power to defend 
this simple people, had become extremely 
friendly with Van Zwieten, and in proof 
of that friendship had askt d him down to 
Chippingholt. There the Dutchman, by 
spying and questioning, had learned so 
much of his family secrets as to have be- 
come his master. As such he had forced 
him into a confession, and Mr Scarse felt 
— if a scandal was to be avoided — that he 
was at the man's mercy. 

Of course Brenda would be the price of 
his silence. Formerly Scarse had been 
willing enough that his daughter should 
marry Van Zwieten. It would be a noble 
work for her to aid him to build up a new 
state in South Africa. But now he saw 
that the Dutchman was by no means the 
unselfish philanthropist he had supposed 
him to be. He was tricky and shifty. 
His was the iron hand in the velvet glove, 
and if he became Brenda's husband it was 
by no means improbable that he would 
ill-treat her. It did not seem right to force 
her into this marriage when she loved an- 
other man. After all, she was his daughter 
— his only daughter ; and Scarse's paternal 
instinct awoke even thus late in the day to 
prompt him to protect and cherish her. If 
he felt for poor Robert and his woes, surely 
he could feel for the troubles of Brenda. 

Musing thus, it occurred to him that he 
might frustrate any probable schemes of 
Van Zwieten by telling the whole truth to 
Brenda. Then let her marry Harold and 
defy the man. At all events he determined 
that Brenda should be introduced to the 
family skeleton, and accordingly one after- 
noon he drove to Kensington. Mrs S t Leger 
was out, so was the colonel, and he found 
his daughter alone. 

When he entered — for all the world like 
an old grey wolf — for his troubles had aged 
him — Brenda came forward with a look 
of astonishment in her eyes. Usually her 
father was not so attentive as to pay her 
a visit ; and she could not conjecture the 
meaning of the tender expression on his 
face. As a matter of fact Mr Scarse was 
realising for the first time that this tall, 
beautiful girl was his daughter. But she 
could not divine this, and her welcome 
to him was, as usual, quite cold. 

' How are you, father ? ' she said, kissing 
him in a conventional way. ' I am glad 



56 



A Traitor in London 



to see you, but I expected Harold, and 
was quite astonished when you came in.' 

'And disappointed too, I suppose,' 
said Scarse, in a low voice. 

Something in his tone struck her sen- 
sitive ear as unusual. ' No, I am glad to 
see you,' she repeated, 'but — but — but, 
you know, father, there was never much 
love lost between us.' 

' Ah, Brenda, I fear that too much love 
has been loit. I wish to speak openly 
and seriously to you, Brenda ' — he looked 
at her piteously — ' but I don't know how 
to begin.' 

' Are you not well, father ? ' 

' Yes, yes, I am quite well,' he replied, 
leaning on her shoulder as she led him to 
the sofa. ' But I'm worried, dear, worried. 
Sit down here.' 

' Worried — what about?' She sat down, 
but could not as yet grasp the situation. 
It was so novel, so unexpected. 

'About you — about myself. My dear, 
I have not been a good father to you.' 

Brenda stared. Were the heavens going 
to fall? So astonished was she by this 
wholly unexpected show of tenderness that 
she could make no answer. He looked 
at her anxiously and continued, ' I fear I 
have been so engrossed by my duty to my 
country that I have forgotten my duty 
to you, my child. I should not have left 
you so long at school away from me. No 
wonder you have so little affection for me. 
I am not much more than a name to you. 
But I see now how wrong I have been, 
Brenda dear, and I want to do my best 
to make amends to you. You will let 
me?' 

' Father ! ' she cried, all her warm and 
generous heart going out to him in his 
penitence. She threw her arms round his 
neck. ' Don't say any more, dear. I have 
to ask your forgiveness too, for I have 
not been all a daughter should be to 
you.' 

' Ah, Brenda, it is my fault. I kept you 
from me. But that shall not be now, dear. 
I have found my daughter and I will keep 
her. Kiss me, Brenda.' 

She kissed him, and her eyes filled with 
tears. In that moment of joy in finding 
her father she forgot even Harold. These 
words of tenderness were balm to her 
aching heart, and, too deeply moved to 
speak, she wept on his shoulder. Hence- 



forth she would be different — everything 
would be different. And the man him- 
self was scarcely less moved. 

' How foolish I have been, Brenda. I 
have lost the substance for the shadow.' 

' No, no, father. I love you. I have 
always loved you. But I thought you did 
not care for me.' 

' I care for you now, Brenda. Hush, 
hush, do not cry, child.' 

' You won't ask me to marry Mr van 
Zwieten now, father ? ' 

' No,' replied he, vigorously. ' I in- 
tend to have nothing further to do with 
that man.' 

' Ah ! ' she exclaimed, raising her head. 
1 At last you have found him out ! ' 

' No, dear, I have not exactly found 
him out, but I have come to the con- 
clusion that he is double-dealing and 
dangerous. You shall not marry him, 
Brenda. You love Harold, and Harold 
shall be your husband. But I must not 
lose my daughter,' he added tenderly. 

' You shall not, father. You shall gain 
a son. Oh, how happy I am ! ' and lay- 
ing her head upon his shoulder she wept 
tears of pure joy. 

For some moments he did not speak, 
but held her to him closely. He, too, 
was happy — had not felt so happy for 
years. How he regretted now having kept 
this warm, pure affection at arm's length 
for so long. But time was passing, and 
Mrs St Leger and the colonel might be 
back at any moment, and he had much 
to tell her. 

' Listen to me, Brenda dear,' he said, 
raising her head gently. ' Do you re- 
member the man so like me whom Harold 
saw ? ' 

'The man with the crape scarf? Of 
course I remember him, father.' She 
looked steadfastly at him, expecting a 
revelation since he had so unexpectedly 
introduced the subject. ' I saw him in 
Trafalgar Square on the day of the meet- 
ing.' 

' And you knew that it was not me ? ' 

' Yes ; but he was so like you, that had 
he not been on the platform I might easily 
have mistaken him for you, like Harold 
did.' 

'Had you spoken to him you would 
have found out your mistake,' sighed 
Scarse. 



What Van Zwieten knew 



57 



' I wanted to, but Mr van Zwieten took 
him away.' 

' I know — I know. Brenda, I deceived 
you about that man for your own sake 
and for mine. I took his sins on my 
shoulders that he might not get into 
trouble.' 

' What ? ' Brenda's voice rose almost to 
a shriek. ' Did he kill Mr Malet ? ' 

'No, no,' replied her father, eagerly. 'I 
can prove to you that he did not. But, 
Brenda, do you not wonder why he is so 
like me, and why I take so deep an in- 
terest in him ? ' 

( I do wonder. I thought he might be 
a relative. But you denied it, and Aunt 
Julia said she had no relative but you.' 

Mr Scarse drooped his head. ' Julia ? 
Ah, she is still bitter against poor 
Robert ! ' 

' Robert ? — who is he ? ' 

1 My twin brother, Brenda — your 
uncle ! ' 

' Oh ! ' Brenda threw up her hands in 
surprise. ' And I never knew.' 

' No one knows but your aunt and 
myself, and she denies him— and Van 
Zwieten knows.' 

' Oh, father ! How can he know ? ' 

' I told him,' replied Mr Scarse, quietly. 
' I was forced to tell him, lest he should 
imagine the truth to be worse than it is. 
And he might have got me into trouble — 
and not only me, but poor, mad Robert' 

' Mad ! Is my uncle mad ? ' 

'Yes, poor soul. Now I will tell you 
what made him mad — the same story that 
I was forced to tell Van Zwieten.' 

Brenda looked anxiously at her father 
and placed her hand in his. Grasping it 
hard he related the sad family history he 
had told the Dutchman, suppressing 
nothing, extenuating nothing. Brenda 
listened in profound silence. At times 
her eyes flashed, at times she wept, but 
never a wjrd did she say. When her 
father had finished her sorrow burst forth. 

' My dear father, how good you are ! 
To think I have been such a bad daughter, 
and you with all this worry on you ! Oh, 
forgive me, forgive me ! ' and she threw 
herself sobbing into his arms. 

'My dear, there is nothing to forgive. 
I have told you why I bore this trouble 
in silence — why I told Van Zwieten.' 

'Thank God you don't want me to 



marry him,' sobbed Brenda. ' Harold 
and I are going to be married quietly at 
Brighton.' 

' Better wait a while yet,' said Scarse, 
nervously ; ' it will drive Van Zwieten in- 
to a corner if you marry now, and you 
don't know what he may do then.' 

' He can't do anything, father. If he 
does attempt it I have only to tell Lady 
Jenny; she can manage him. Harold 
has gone to see her about it.' 

Somewhat astonished at this, Scarse 
was about to ask what way Lady Jenny 
could control Van Zwieten when the door 
opened and Captain Burton walked in, 
looking considerably more cheerful than 
when Brenda had seen him last. He 
pulled up short at the amazirg sight of 
the girl in her father's arms. 

* Harold ! ' she exclaimed. ' Oh, how 
glad I am you have come ! I have so 
much to tell you ; and father — father — ' 

' Father has just discovered that he has 
a dear daughter,' said Scarse, holding out 
his hand to the astounded young man. 
'Yes, Harold, and I consent to your 
marriage gladly.' 

' But what about Van Zwieten ? ' gasped 
Captain Burton, utterly at a loss to under- 
stand this sudden change of front. 

'He shall never marry Brenda. I'll 
tell you all about it.' 

'Wait one minute, father,' cried the 
girl. ' Harold, did you see Lady Jenny ? ' 

' Yes, Brenda, I have seen her. It is 
all right ; she can manage Van Zwieten. 
No, I won't tell you now. She particu- 
larly wishes to do that herself.' 



CHAPTER XIV 

WHAT VAN ZWIETEN KNEW 

The clever criminal who wishes to escape 
the law does not seek provincial neigh- 
bourhoods or foreign climes. He remains 
in London ; for him no place is so safe. 
There a man can disappear from one 
district and reappear in another without 
danger of recognition by unwelcome 
friends. Of course the pertinacity of the 
police may do much to complicate matters, 
but the history of crime goes to show very 
clearly that they are by no means infallible. 
But about them Van Zwieten troubled 



5« 



A Traitor in London 



himself very little. Certainly he changed 
his name to Jones, for his own, in those 
anti-Dutch times, smacked overmuch of 
Holland. But for the rest his disguise 
was slight. From St James's he changed 
his address to a part of Westminster where 
none of his West End friends were likely 
to come across him ; and as Mr Jones he 
carried on his plotting against the Empire 
with every sense of security. And in such 
security he saw only a strong proof of John 
Bull's stupidity. An Englishman would 
have seen in it a glorious example of 
freedom. 

In a side street Van Zwieten, alias Mr 
Jones, dwelt on the first floor of a quiet 
house let out in lodgings by the quietest 
of widows. And Mrs Hicks had a good 
opinion of her lodger. It is true he was 
somewhat erratic in his movements. For 
days he would go away — into the country, 
he said — and even when in town would 
be absent for many hours at a stretch. 
But he paid well and regularly, was not 
exacting about either his food or attend- 
ance, and behaved altogether in a most 
becoming manner. He certainly saw a 
great number of people, and they called 
on him principally at night, but Mr Jones 
had kindly informed her how he was 
writing a great book on London, and 
how these people were gathering materials 
for him. Had Mrs Hicks known the 
kind of materials they were collecting, 
she might or might not have been aston- 
ished. Certainly she would have been 
but little the wiser. 

A decent, if narrow-minded little person, 
Mrs Hicks knew little of politics and still 
less of spies. These latter — on those few 
occasions when they had presented them- 
selves to her mind — she pictured as 
foreign persons given to meeting by 
candle-light with masks and cloaks and 
daggers. That the kind gentleman who 
was so polite to her and so kind to her 
fatherless children should be a spy 
assuredly never entered Mrs Hicks's head. 

Van Zwieten — it is more convenient to 
call him so — sat in his rooms one night 
in the second week in October. His 
face wore a satisfied smile, for a great 
event had taken place. Free State and 
Transvaal, under the sapient guidance of 
their Presidents, had thrown down the 
gage of defiance to England, and the 



Federal armies were overrunning Natal. 
Scarse and his following were dreadfully 
shocked at this sample of simplicity on 
the part of their ' innocent lamb.' It was 
all out of keeping with Mr Kruger's pacific 
intensions as extolled by them. Indeed, 
they found it necessitated a change of 
tactics on their part, so they right-about 
faced and deplored that war should thus 
have been forced on an honest, God- 
fearing man. In all sincerity they tried 
to divide the country on the question of 
the war ; and in Brussels Leyds was doing 
his best to hound on the Continental 
Powers to attacking England. Altogether 
Van Zwieten was very well satisfied with 
the outlook. What with the unprepared 
state of the British in Natal, Leyds on the 
Continent, Scarse and his friends in 
London, it seemed as though the Boers, 
by treachery and cunning and the due 
display of armament — as formidable as it 
was wholly unlooked for — would come 
safely out of the desperate adventure to 
which they had committed themselves. 
Van Zwieten's part was to send off certain 
final information to Leyds for transmission 
to Pretoria, and then to leave England. 

But Van Zwieten was not going out to 
fight for his adopted country. Oh, dear, 
no ! He had ostensibly thrown up his 
appointment in the Transvaal — which in 
truth he had never held — in great indig- 
nation before the war began . Proclaiming 
himself as a neutral person anxious to 
reconcile the English and the Boers, he 
had solicited and obtained the post of 
war correspondent on a Little England 
newspaper called the Morning Planet. 
This paper, whose columns were filled 
with the hysterical hooting of Scarse and 
his friends, was only too glad to employ 
a foreigner instead of an Englishman, and 
Van Zwieten received good pay, and an 
order to go to the front at once. 

Now he was occupied in burning a mass 
of papers, gathering up the loose ends of 
his innumerable conspiracies, and looking 
forward to a speedy departure. All his 
spies had been paid and dismissed. He 
had one more letter to despatch to the 
patriotic Leyds, and then he was free to 
turn his attention to his private affairs. 

These were concerned chiefly with an 
attempt to force Brenda into giving up 
Burton and accepting his hand, by threat- 



What Van Zwieten knew 



59 



ening to denounce her father and his 
brother. He had never for a moment 
intended to keep the promise he had 
made to Scarse. He was too ' slim ' for 
that. He possessed knowledge which 
would serve him to his own ends, and he 
intended to use it for that purpose. 
Burton, too, was to leave with his regiment 
next day, and was alreadyat Southampton. 
And once he was parted from Brenda 
there would be a better chance of bringing 
her to see reason. Van Zwieten smiled 
sweetly as he thought on these things, 
and gave himself up to the contemplation 
of that rosy future when the Republics 
conquered England, as they assuredly 
would. He forgot th.it very significant 
saying that man proposes and God dis- 
poses. But Van Zwieten was a heathen, 
and had very little belief in an overruling 
Providence. 

He knew how to make himself snug did 
this Dutchman. His room was large, and 
comfortably if not luxuriously furnished. 
Wall paper, carpet and curtains were all 
of a dark -green tone. Two windows led 
on to a light iron balcony, but at present 
these were closed and the curtains were 
drawn. The firelight — he had lighted a 
fire because the evening was chilly— shed 
its comfortable glow on the two easy-chairs 
wherewith he had supplemented the furni- 
ture of Mrs Hicks. To him belonged 
also a tall press with pigeon-holes filled 
with papers, and a knee-hole desk with 
many drawers and brass knobs. On this 
latter the lamp was placed, and its crimson 
shade shut off the light beyond the im- 
mediate circle cast on the desk. On the 
mantel glittered a gimcrack French clock, 
and three extraordinary ornaments with 
brass pendants. But altogether the room 
was decidedly comfortable, and as Mr 
van Zwieten did not pay for it out of his 
own pocket, maybe he enjoyed it all the 
more on that account. 

At the present moment he was shifting 
papers from the pigeon-holes into an iron 
box, destroying some, and burning others; 
and executing the business with ease and 
despatch. 

While he was thus employed a timid 
knock came at the door. He knew the 
knock will, and he knew that behind it 
was Mrs Hicks. He did not desist from 
h:s occupation because he held her of but 



small account. It wc uld have been other- 
wise had the knock been sharp and pcr^ 
emptory. 

' Well, Mrs Hicks,' he said graciously 
as the pale widow glided in, ' what is it ? ' 

' If you please, Mr Jones, there is a man 
waiting to see you.' 

1 A man — a gentleman ? ' 

' A common person, sir, in a rough coat, 
and a cap and big boots. I don't think 
he's a gentleman, as he speaks rough like, 
and his black hair and beard look very 
untidy, Mr Jones. I was once a lady's 
maid, sir, so I ought to know a gentleman 
when I see him.' 

' Show him up,' said Van Zwieten, 
curtly ; then, as she left the room, he made 
certain preparations. He closed the press 
doors and the lid of his iron box, seated 
himself at his desk, and glanced into a 
drawer to be sure that his revolver was 
handy. In Van Zwieten's walk of life it 
was necessary to be forearmed as well as 
forewarned. 

The man who shortly afterwards came 
tramping into the room fully bore out Mrs 
Hicks's description. He was of medium 
height and rather stout, and was roughly 
dressed in coarse blue serge, and had a 
tangle of black curls and a heavy black 
beard. He was not a prepossessing object. 
In response to Van Zwieten's invitation 
he shuffled into an arm-chair by the desk, 
and pushed it well back into the shadow. 
The act, though skilfully done, roused the 
Dutchman's suspicions. But he was ac- 
customed in his delicate profession to deal 
with curious customers, and he showed 
no surprise. He did not even shift the 
shade of the lamp. But very much on the 
alert, he waited for the stranger to state 
his business. 

' Is your name Jones ? ' asked the man, 
in a gruff, surly voice. 

' Yes, that is my name. And yours ? ' 

' Dobbs — Augustus Dobbs. I should 
have brought a letter to you, but I didn't. 
It's better to do my own business off my 
own hook, I reckon.' 

'Are you a Yankee?' asked Van 
Zwieten, noting the expression and a 
slight twang. 

' I guess so. I come from N'York City, 
I do ; and I fancy a run out to the Transvaal 
to have a slap at the Britishers.' 

* Indeed ! ' said the Dutchman, staring 



6o 



A Traitor in London 



blankly at his visitor, ' and what have I to 
do with your ambitions in that direction ? ' 

The man drew the back of his hand 
across his mouth, and Van Zwieten noted 
that the hand was white and well cared 
for. This, in contrast to the rough dress 
and harsh voice, made him more circum- 
spect than ever. He began to suspect a 
trap, and wondered which of his enemies 
— for he had many — could have set it. 

' Do you know a man named Mazaroff? ' 
asked Mr Dobbs, after a pause. 

'No,' replied Van Zwieten, lying cheer- 
fully ; ' never heard of him.' 

'He's a Russian.' 

' The name sounds like it' 

Dobbs looked disappointed and turned 
sullen. ' He knows you, Mr Jones ! ' 

' Indeed, that is not improbable. Did 
he send you to me ? ' 

' Yes, he did.' Dobbs had dropped his 
American accent by this time, and only 
used it again when he recollected himself. 
' Mazaruff said you paid well for certain 
information.' 

' What kind of information ? ' 

' About the war.' He leaned forward 
and spoke in a gruff whisper. ' What 
would you say to a plan of the whole 
campaign against the Boers ? ' 

Van Zwieten smiled blandly. ' Of what 
possible interest can that be to me ? ' 

' Mazaroff said you would be prepared 
to pay well for such information.' 

'He knows me better then than I do my- 
self,' replied Van Zwieten. ' Better than 
I know him, for indeed I have no know- 
ledge of your Russian friend. But this 
plan of campaign, Mr Dobbs, how did it 
come into your possession ? ' 

Dobbs looked round mysteriously, and 
rising in his chair, leaned towards Van 
Zwieten. ' I stole it,' he said softly, 'and 
I am willing to sell it — at a price. Think 
of it, Mr Jones, a plan of campaign ! 
Symons's plans ! The Boers would be 
able to frustrate it easily.' 

Van Zwieten looked his man up and 
down with a smile. His gaze alighted on 
those well-kept hands, which his visitor 
had placed on the desk to steady himself 
as he leaned forward. On the third finger 
of the left hand was a ring, and Van 
Zwieten recognised it. It was a gold 
signet ring with a crest. 

The moment he set eyes on it, the spy 



jumped to a conclusion, which happened 
to be the right one. He knew now who 
his visitor was, and he played him as a 
skilful angler plays a trout. Not a muscle 
of his face moved, not a flush or a look 
betrayed his newly-gained knowledge. 
But he smiled behind his golden beard 
to think that he was master of the situa- 
tion. 

' So Mr Mazaroff told you that I bought 
such things ? ' he said negligently. 

' Yes, and that you paid a large price 
for them.' 

' Ah ! and what would you call a fair 
price for these papers ? ' 

' Say a thousand pounds.' 

' That is a very large price indeed. Too 
large, I fear, for me,' said Van Zwieten, 
most amiably. ' Perhaps you can see your 
way to make it lower ? ' 

The visitor could not refrain from a 
movement of satisfaction, which was duly 
noted by the astute Dutchman. 

'Well,' he said, 'I will do what I can 
to meet you.' Van Zwieten smiled. He 
saw that the man was growing excited, 
and that in his excitement he would betray 
himself. 

' That is accommodating of you, Mr 
Dobbs. But how can 1 be ceitain this 
plan is genuine ? ' 

' You can be perfectly certain, for I stole 
it from the War Office ! ' 

'Indeed. That is certainly first hand. 
But how did you, an American, get into 
the War Office ? ' 

' I have been a porter there for some 
time,' said Dobbs, glibly. ' I am allowed 
access to all the rooms. I saw those papers 
on a desk, and I took them. Mazaroff 
told me you paid well, so — well, I came 
to you. Come, now, you shall have them 
for five hundred pounds.' 

' Too much, Mr Dobbs.' 

'Three hundred,' said the man, trem- 
bling with eagerness. 

'Ah, that's more reasonable. Have 
you the papers with you ? ' 

' No, but if you will come to my lodg- 
ings I will give them to you. But I must 
have the money first.' 

' Certainly. Will a cheque do ? ' 

'Oh, yes, a cheque will do right enough.' 

Van Zwieten produced a cheque-book 
and bent over it to hide a smile. He 
drew the cheque, but before signing it 



What Van Zwieten knew 



61 



looked up. ' Of course this rather incul- 
pates you,' he said. ' I suppose you know 
what it means if you were caught at this 
game ? ' 

'I'm willing to take the risk,' said 
Dabbs, nervously. 

' Quite so. Just see if I've got your 
name correctly. Burton, isn't it?' 

' What do you mean ? ' 

« Wilfred Burton ' 

' I — I — don't understand — ' 

Van Zwieten deftly twitched the beard 
off the face of his visitor and snatched 
the shade off the lamp. ' Do you under- 
stand now ? ' he said, laughing. ' Look 
in the glass, sir, and see if Augustus Dobbs 
is not Wilfred Burton ? ' 

Wilfred was ghastly pale, but more with 
rage at the failure of his scheme than with 
fear. With a cry of anger he sprang up 
and whipped a revolver out of his pocket. 
But Van Zwieten, on the alert for some 
such contingency, was quite as quick. 
He also snatched a revolver from the 
drawer, and with levelled weapons the 
two men faced one another. Van Zwieten 
was as calm as the other was excited. 

'You are very clever, Mr Burton,' he 
said mockingly; 'but when you are in 
disguise you should not wear a signet 
ring. I observed your crest on the letters 
written to Miss Scarse by your brother. 
Come ! how long are we to stand like 
this ? Is it a duel ? If so, I am ready.' 

Wilfred uttered an oath and slipped 
his weapon into his pocket. With a laugh 
Van Zwieten tossed his into the drawer 
again, and sat down quite unruffled. 

' I think we understand one another 
now,' he said genially. 'What induced 
you to play this trick on me ? ' 

'Because you are a spy,' replied Wilfred, 
fiercely ; ' and if I had my way I would 
put a bullet through you.' 

'Well, and why don't you?' mocked 
Van Zwieten. ' Do you see that iron 
box ? — it is full of papers which might be 
of the greatest interest to you. Shoot 
me and take possession of it. Your 
Government would reward you — or hang 
you ! ' 

'They'll hang you if they learn the 
truth. We are at war with the Boers, and 
you are a Boer spy. A word from me 
and you would be arrested.' 

' I daresay. There are enough docu- 



ments in th-it box to hang me. I daresay 
you bribed Mazaroff and learned my 
business, also my address here as Mr 
Jones. But I am not afraid — not that ! ' 
Van Zwieten snapped his fingers. ' Y^u 
can walk out and cull up the police if you 
like.' 

' And what is to prevent my doing so ? ' 

' Two things. One is that I leave im- 
mediately for the Transvaal. Oh, yes, my 
work here is done, and well done. I have 
found out how unprepared you English 
are for this war. You talk big, but there 
is nothing at the back of it.' 

' Confound you ! ' cried Wilfred, his 
white face flushing, 'you'll find out what 
is at the back of it when we hoi.-t the 
British flag at Pretoria. What is the 
second thing ? ' 

' Your brother. You love your brother, 
no doubt, Mr Burton. He sails to-morrow 
with his regiment from Southampton. 
Quite so. Well, Mr Burton, it is a good 
thing he is going. It is better he should 
be shot than hanged.' 

' Hanged ! ' Wilfred sprang from his- 
seat with a bound. 

'The morning after the murder,' con- 
tinued Van Zwieten, without taking any 
notice, 'I examined the place where Malet 
was shot. Ah ! you blind English, who 
see nothing even when it lies under your 
nose. I am Dutch. I am sharp. I 
looked— and looked — and I found this ! ' 
He slipped his hand into the open drawer 
of the desk and produced a heavy revolver 
of the army pattern. 'This, Mr Burton 
— with which your brother shot Mr 
Malet' 

'You — you can't prove it is Harold's, ' 
said he, white but calm. 

' Easily. Here is a silver plate on the 
butt with his name. Now, what do you 
say?' 

' That my brother is innocent. The 
revolver is his, but someone else fired the 
shot.' 

Van Zwieten shrugged his shoulders. 
' I am afraid you will find it difficult to 
get a jury to take that view, Mr burton. 
Your brother quarrelled with Malet — he 
was overheard to threaten him — he was 
out in the storm and could not account 
for his time — and here is his revolver. 
With all that evidence I could hani; him. 
But you know — well, I'll be 



62 



A Traitor in London 



Hold your tongue and I'll hold mine. 
What do you say ? ' 

Wilfred looked piercingly at Van 
Zwieten, who had dropped his bantering 
tone and was in earnest. ' Harold is 
innocent,' said he, 'but — I'll hold my 
tongue.' 



CHAPTER XV 

THE GIRL HE LEFT BEHIND HIM 

When Wilfred had taken his departure, 
Van Zwieten drew a breath of relief. He 
had only escaped a great danger by virtue 
of his ready resource and the excitability 
and hot-headed impulsiveness of his ad- 
versary. 

Without doubt Wilfred's plan — and a 
harumscarum plan it was — had been to 
decoy him into an ambush of police, on 
the pretence of selling him the so-called 
State papers, and when he had irretriev- 
ably betrayed himself, to have had him 
arrested as a spy. Thanks only to his 
skill in penetrating the disguise of his 
visitor, Van Zwieten had evaded this 
peril ; but he had been in greater danger 
than even Wilfred knew. 

The papers in the iron box were suffi- 
cient to prove him a spy ten times over. 
Had Wilfred only been astute enough to 
have procured a search warrant on the 
evidence of Mazaroff, and with the assist- 
ance of the police to have raided the prem- 
ises of the so-called Mr Jones, these 
papers would have been discovered, and 
Mr van Zwieten's little games put an end 
to for the time b.ing. 

But Wilfred had let the golden moment 
go by, and the Dutchman was safe from 
his worst enemy — that is, from the one 
who wished him most harm, and who 
knew most to his disadvantage. 

There was no doubt that Wilfred was 
now powerless to move against him. By 
skilfully suggesting that Harold had com- 
mitted the murder — which was untrue — 
and producing the revolver inscribed with 
Harold's name, which had been found 
near the scene of the murder — which was 
true — Van Zwieten had effectually stopped 
the mouth of Mr Wilfred Burton. If that 
young man now denounced him to the 
authorities he would do so at the risk of 



having his brother arrested. And in the 
face of such evidence it might be that 
Harold would be found guilty. In any 
case he would be prevented from sailing 
for South Africa. But Van Zwieten, while 
looking after himself, had no wish that 
things should go thus far. He was most 
anxious that Captain Burton should go to 
the front, for if chance did not aid him, 
he had quite determined to have him 
specially shot in action. 

At present things were going as he 
wished. Wilfred was coerced into silence, 
he himself was safe, and Harold was about 
to go to his death in Natal. There re- 
mained only Brenda to deal with, and 
with her Mr van Zwieten hoped to come 
to an understanding very shortly now. 

The rest of the night he spent in burn- 
ing such papers as he did not require and 
in packing the remainder in the iron box. 
It was of no great size this box, and one 
man could carry it away with ease. Van 
Zwieten locked it, and then stowed it 
away on the top of the tall press, in a 
hollow formed by the ornamentation of 
the crest. Into this the precious box just 
fitted; and thus carelessly deposited, he 
took it to be far safer than any moreelabor- 
ate attempt at concealment could make it. 
A thief would assuredly make for the safe 
first and foremost, so would the police, 
while neither would think of looking on 
the top of the press. Not that Van 
Zwieten expected either thieves or police, 
for that matter ; but it was his habit to 
place the box there, and what had hap- 
pened in no way caused him to depart from 
his usual custom. 

Having thus finished his work, he went 
to bed and slept for a few hours. And 
as he closed his eyes his thoughts were 
altogether pleasant. 

' I shall go down to Southampton to- 
morrow,' they ran, 'and see Burton off for 
the front. I sha'n't exactly relish being 
witness of his very tender leave-taking with 
Brenda ; but it will be some satisfaction 
to know it's for the last time. She won't 
see him again. We'll be married at once 
and I'll follow close on his heels. If he 
only knew ! If she only knew ! But that 
is what shall be. I, Van Zwieten, have 
spoken. Then, once in the British camp, 
I can both serve these brave little Re- 
publics and make sure that Captain Harold 



The Girl he left behind him 



63 



Burton is made short work of. That will 
be very easily done. And then when all 
is over, and these British hogs are driven 
into the sea, I'll come and fetch my little 
wife, and there, amid the glorious expanse 
of the veldt, we shall live together happily 
ever after.' A beautiful little castle of 
cards truly, but one which, had he only 
known, was destined to be very much 
knocked about by Fate, over which not 
even he, Van Zwieten, had control. 

Next morning he was up betimes, and 
handing the key of his rooms to Mrs Hicks 
with strict injunctions to admit no one, he 
set off for Waterloo Station. He knew 
that he could trust his little landlady, and 
he judged it wiser to do so than to lock 
up and take the key in his pocket, for of 
that even she might have been suspicious. 

On his way to the terminus he again 
relapsed into a gentle and wholly self-con- 
gratulatory reverie ; and with a religious 
zeal worthy of a follower of Oom Paul he 
fished from the deep recesses of his 
memory a text bearing on the destruction 
of the unrighteous — to wit, in this instance, 
Messieurs Wilfred and Harold Burton. 

The ancient town of Southampton was 
gay with flags, crowded with people, and 
bubbling over with excitement and bustle. 
Through the streets marched the troops 
in khaki, with resolute faces and swinging 
tread, while those whose rights they were 
going to defend cheered them, poured 
blessings on them, and sought to enliven 
them with frequent snatches of patriotic 
song. Not since the days of the Crimea 
— a dim memory even to the older gen- 
eration — had there been such excitement. 
And the great transport lay there — a 
floating barracks — ready and impatient to 
carry these brave fellows overseas to vin- 
dicate the name of Britain as a civilising 
and protective power. Oom Paul had 
been given rope enough ; now he was 
going to hang himself, or be hanged, as 
he assuredly deserved to be. 

Maybe Van Zwieten thought otherwise. 
He surveyed the excited throng with his 
usual bland smile, and pushed his way 
through their midst down to the quay. 
Knowing, as noone else did, the true power 
of the Republics, he smiled grimly as 
he thought how soon all this joy would be 
turned into mourning. But what Mr van 
Zwieten did not know — what he could 



not realise — was that the more terrible 
the danger threatening a Britisher the 
more does he set his back to the wall, and 
set his teeth to meet it and to conquer. 

In the bright sunlight the troops em- 
barked, speeches were made, healths were 
drunk, and many a hand gripped hand. 
On board the transport the officers were 
busy looking after their men and superin- 
tending the horses being taken on board. 
Brenda, quietly dressed, and doing her 
best to keep up her spirits, was leaning on 
the arm of her father, and longing for a few 
last words with Harold. But Captain 
Burton — a fine, soldierly figureinhis khaki 
uniform — was on duty, and could not be 
spared for the moment. 

Much as Mr Scarse disliked the war and 
reprobated the causes which had led to it, 
he had come down with Brenda to see the 
last of Harold ; but in the face of all this 
he could not but lament inwardly that the 
good offices of the peace party had not 
prevailed. This stir and military activity 
was surely out of all proportion to the 
business in hand — the subjugation of a 
mere handful of farmers ! But Mr Searse 
forgot that wasps are not so easily crushed 
— that the larger the fist that tries to crush 
them the greater the chance of its being 
stung. While thus meditating on the in- 
iquity of his country, he felt his daughter 
start, and when he looked at her he saw 
that she was white and trembling. 

'What is it, Brenda?' he asked ner- 
vously, for he had not been the same man 
since his interview with the Dutchman. 

' I have seen Mr van Zwieten,' she re- 
plied faintly. ' He is yonder in the crowd. 
He smiled in that horrible way of his when 
he caught my eye.' 

'Never mind, Brenda. Van Zwieten 
can do no harm now ; and shortly we shall 
be rid of him altogether. He is going out 
to the Cape.' 

' To Pretoria, you mean.' 

1 No, I mean to the Cape, ' returned her 
father. ' Rather to my surprise, I hear he 
has given up his appointment in the 
Transvaal, and has thrown in his lot with 
this misguided country. He goes with 
Lord Methuen as the correspondent of the 
Morning Planet — to report the massacre 
of his unfortunate countrymen, I suppose.' 

' I don't believe he is on our side,' 
Brenda said vehemently. ' At heart he is 



6 4 



A Traitor in London 



a traitor, and has been living in London 
spying for the benefit of the Boers — so, at 
least, Wilfred tells me.' 

' Wilfred is an excitable boy. Can he 
prove this wild charge ? ' 

'Not now; but he intends to do so 
later.' 

'He never will. Believe me, I don't 
like Van Zwieten, and I regret very much 
that I ever made a friend of him, but I 
don't think he is a spy.' 

' I'm sure he is ! ' 

' How can you be sure ? ' 

' Because I hate him,' replied Brenda, 
with true feminine logic. 'And if he is 
going to the front, I'll tell Harold to keep 
a sharp eye on him.' 

' It might be quite as well, dear,' replied 
her father. 'Forewarned is forearmed; and 
when he learns the truth about you, it is 
quite possible he might attempt some plot 
against Harold.' 

' I'm not afraid. Harold can protect 
himself even against such a scoundrel as 
Van Zwieten. Here is Harold, father. 
How splendid he looks ! ' 

Brenda might well be excused for her 
enthusiasm. Captain Harold Burton did 
make a most striking and soldierly figure 
in his close-fitting khaki uniform. He 
was trim and natty in his dress, bright 
and ardent, and full of enthusiasm for the 
work before him. Brenda would have 
had him a trifle more subdued since he 
was about to leave her ; but she had no 
cause to complain when he said good-bye. 
He felt their parting as much as she did, 
even though as a man and a soldier he 
was more able to conceal his emotions. 

'Come down to my cabin, Brenda,' he 
said, taking her arm. ' I have got ten 
minutes to spare. We start in half an hour.' 

' I won't come,' Mr Scarse said, waving 
his hand. ' Take her down, Harold, and 
get it over.' 

The two went below amongst the busy 
throng of stewards who were darting about 
.getting the cabins in order. Into one on 
the starboard side Captain Burton led his 
wife. He shared it with a brother officer, 
who was at that moment on duty. Harold 
-closed the door. The girl was crying 
bitterly now. He took her in his arms. 

' Don't cry, dear little wife,' he said 
tenderly. ' Please God, I'll come back to 
you safe and sound,' 



' Oh, Harold, you will, I know you will ! ' 
she said earnestly. ' Nothing will happen 
to you. I dreamed it did, Harold, and 
dreams always go by contraries, you know. 
Dearest, if only I were coming with you, 
I wouldn't mind.' 

' Dear Brenda, it is better as it is ; be- 
sides, I should have had to leave you at 
Capetown. You could not have come 
to the front. No, dear, you stay with 
your father, and pray for a speedy end to 
the war. Remember you are my wife now, 
Brenda, so I have no fear of any harm 
coming to you through that scoundrel Van 
Zwieten.' 

' He is here, Harold. I saw him among 
the crowd. I have no fear for you, dear, 
there at the front ; but — well, I am afraid 
of Van Zwieten's treachery.' 

' But he is in England, dearest ; he can't 
hurt me out there.' 

' He is leaving for the Cape almost 
immediately. Father told me so.' 

' Well, then,' laughed Harold to comfort 
her, ' if I see him in the ranks of the 
enemy I'll shoot him before he can take 
sight at me. Will that do ? ' 

' Harold, he won't be in the ranks of 
the enemy.' 

' Why not ? The fellow is a Boer — or 
to all intents and purposes will be when 
he takes up his Transvaal appointment.' 

•That's just it. He has given up the 
appointment and is going out as corre- 
spondent to the Morning Planet.' 1 

Captain Burton wrinkled his forehead. 
' I don't like this sudden conversion,' he 
said decisively. 'Wilfred believes the 
fellow is a spy.' 

' And so do I, dearest — from the bottom 
of my heart.' 

' Well, if he's going to hang about our 
camps for the spy business I'll make short 
work of him.' 

' Be careful, Harold — oh, be careful. 
He is a dangerous man.' 

' I shall know how to manage him out 
there. Wilfred is coming out, you know, 
in a week or so, and I'll get him to tell 
me all he knows about Van Zwieten. If 
he is a spy, we'll watch him and have him 
slung up. I'll keep my eyes open, Brenda. 
And if he tries on any games before he 
leaves England, just you see Lady Jenny.' 

' What can she do ? ' 

' A great deal. She wouldn't tell me 



The Unexpected happens 



65 



how she meant to manage him, but she 
told me she would bring him to his knees. 
That was why I determined to marry you 
before I left. Now that you are my wife, 
Lady Jenny will look after you. You 
must promise me, dear, that you'll go at 
once to her if he should cause you the 
least uneasiness.' 

' I promise, dearest, for your sake. Oh, 
Harold, how I wish I was going ! ' 

'Yes, dear, I know you do. But you 
are a soldier's wife now, and they do their 
work at home. I have made my will, 
leaving all I have to you, Brenda ; and if 
I don't come back ' — his strong voice 
trembled — ' you will have enough to live 
on. At all events, your father has the will.' 

' Harold ! Harold ! ' she cried, weeping 
on his breast, for this parting was very 
bitter to her, ' how can I bear it, darling ? 
Dearest, be careful of your dear life for 
my sake— for me, your wife.' 

' Hush, dear, hush ; I am in the hands 
of God.' He pressed her closely to him 
and kissed her in silence. Then he looked 
upward and said a silent fervent prayer. 
They clung to each other with aching 
hearts, too deeply moved, too sorrowful 
for words. Then the trampling of feet 
overhead, the sound of cheers, the shrill 
voice of the bo'sun's whistle, made them 
start up. 

'Brenda,' whispered Harold, pressing 
her again to his heart, 'good-bye, my own 
dearest.' 

'Oh, Harold! Harold! Good-bye, 
darling ! God bless you and bring you 
back to me.' 

On deck he led her to her father who 
was standing by the gangway, and placed 
her in his arms. ' Take care of her, sir,' 
he said in a low voice, then hurried away 
at the call of duty. 

Father and daughter descended the 
gangway to the wharf. She stood as in 
a dream, with streaming eyes, among other 
women, andlooked at the great ship. The 
shouts of the crowd, the glitter of the sun- 
shine, the many-coloured bunting, seemed 
like a cruel mockery to her aching heart. 
Her Harold was gone from her — and God 
knew when he would return. And every- 
where the women wept and strained and 
ached at parting with their dear ones. 

The transport was like a hive at swarm- 
ing-time. The soldiers were hanging 



over the bulwarks and clinging to the 
rigging. Hats and handkerchiefs waved, 
women wept and men cheered. Then 
amidst all the noise and movement the 
blades of the screw began slowly to churn 
the water as theseething white foam swirled 
astern, the band struck up 'Auld Lang 
Syne,' and the great ship swung majesti- 
cally into mid-stream, her engines throb- 
bing, and black smoke pouring through her 
funnels from the newly stoked furnaces 
below. Brenda, for weeping, could hardly 
see the grey monster gliding over the 
glittering waters; nor, strain as she would, 
could she make out her Harold's dear 
face amongst those hundreds of faces 
turned shoreward. The band changed 
tune: 

' I'm leaving thee in sorrow, Annie, 
I'm leaving thee in tears.' 

' My God ! ' exclaimed Brenda, almost 
hysterical now as she clutched her father's 
arm. 

' Miss Scarse,' said a voice at her elbow. 

Brenda looked up with a tear stained 
face, and a look of horror came into her 
eyes as she saw Van Zwieten's hateful, 
calm face. ' You ! you ! Ah, Harold ! ' 

' Go away, sir, go away,' said Mr Scarse, 
curtly. Then he began to push through 
the crowd with Brenda clinging to his 
arm. 

' I must speak to Miss Scarse,' insisted 
the Dutchman, following. 

The old man turned on him like a wolf. 
'There is no Miss Scarse,' he said firmly. 
' My daughter is now Mrs Harold Bur- 
ton.' 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS 

As the full meaning of those words came 
upon him, Van Zwieten paled. His 
wicked eyes flashed fire, and he uttered 
an oath which, being in Dutch, was happily 
unintelligible to those around him. For 
the moment he could neither move nor 
speak; and seeing his momentary help- 
lessness, Mr Scarse, with Brenda on His 
arm, hurried on through the crowd. 

Before the Dutchman could recover 
his presence of mind, there wax already 

5 



66 



A Traitor in London 



two or three lines of people between him 
and those whom he had fondly thought 
his victims. They had tricked him in 
spite of all his caution; even Scarse, whom 
he had been so sure of, had turned against 
him. But he would be revenged, and 
that speedily. Conjecturing that they 
would probably go to the railway station, 
Van Zwieten hurried thither. If he did 
not find them in the London train, then 
he would wait till he did. In any case 
he swore to get at the truth about this 
marriage. Their punishment should fol- 
low. 

On his part, Mr Scarse, seeing the devil 
which looked out of the Dutchman's eyes, 
knew that the man thus baffled was pre- 
pared to go to any lengths ; and that 
being so, he was only too anxious to 
escape from so dangerous a neighbour- 
hood. 

Taken up with her own sorrow, Brenda 
had paid no attention to the presence or 
foreboding glance of Van Zwieten, but 
submitted blindly to be guided through 
the crowd. All she longed for was to 
get to some quiet place where she could 
give way unrestrained to this grief that 
shook her whole being. And her father 
instinctively divined what she desired and 
said no word to comfort her, but hurried 
her on to the station, and by the judicious 
bestowal of half a sovereign secured a 
carriage to themselves. The man touched 
his hat, and after locking the door, walked 
off to see if any other person's sorrow 
would take such tangible and wholly ex- 
cellent form. 

There in the corner of the carriage 
Brenda lay back and wept for her lost 
husband, whom — it might be — she would 
never see again. But she had a great 
belief in dreams and in the contrariness 
of this particular dream ; and something 
told her he would come safe and sound 
out of the hurly-burly of battle. Neverthe- 
less, life seemed very blank to her just 
then. She wept on unrestrained. Her 
father paid no attention to her. He was 
leaning out of the window watching for 
Van Zwieten. His mind travelled quite 
as quickly as that of the Dutchman, and 
hi guessed that he would come on to the 
station on the chance of finding himself 
and Brenda in the London express. 

The inspector came along, unlocked the 



door, and tried to hustle a couple of 
weeping women into the carriage ; but Mr 
Scarse gave his name and whispered that 
he had engaged the carriage, whereupon 
the inspector promptly conducted the 
mourners to another compartment. In 
his hurry he did not lock the door, which, 
as it turned out, was unfortunate. 

With great anxiety Mr Scarse watched 
the minute hand of the station clock crawl 
round to the hour at which the train was 
timed to start. He turned hot and cold 
at the thought that Van Zwieten might 
come. He had a very shrewd idea of the 
Dutchman's present mood. But there was 
no sign of him. And the bell was ringing 
now for the departure of the express. 

' Thank God ! ' cried Mr Scarse, throw- 
ing himself back into his seat. ' We have 
escaped that villain for the time being at 
any rate.' 

Vain congratulation ! It was as if he 
had tempted the gods. Hardly had the 
train commenced to move when the door 
of the carriage was dashed open, and Van 
Zwieten hurled himself into the compart- 
ment like a charging buffalo. Brenda 
uttered a cry of alarm ; her father swore — 
a thing he very seldompermitted himself to 
do ; and the Dutchman, now quite master 
of his vile temper, smiled blandly and sub- 
sided into a seat. He cleared his throat 
to explain himself. Brenda cast on him 
one look of ineffable contempt, although 
she was far from feelingcontemptuous,and 
did so merely out of bravado. Then she 
drew her veil down and glanced out of the 
window. If she was forced to travel with 
him, she was not forced to speak to him ; 
and besides she felt quite safe having her 
father to protect her, and knowing how 
different now was his attitude towards the 
Dutchman. Van Zwieten smiled un- 
pleasantly. He knew well how to rouse 
her out of that indifference, and he would 
do so when he judged the proper time 
had come. Meanwhile he explained him- 
self to the enraged Scarse, whose blood 
was on fire at the creature's insolence. 

'Notwithstanding the very elaborate 
pains at which you were to reserve this 
carriage, Scarse, I trust you are sufficiently 
hospitable not to mind my joining you,' 
he said coolly. 

' I mind very much, sir ! ' cried the 
other. ' How dare you thrust your -com- 



The Unexpected happens 



6 7 



pany where it is not wanted ? My daugh- 
ter and I can dispense with your presence.' 

'I daresay!' sneered the Dutchman, 
although he looked surprised at this un- 
expected resistance on the part of the 
hitherto meek M.P ; 'but you see I have 
a great deal to say to you and Miss 
Scarse.' 

' Mrs Burton, if you please,' Brenda 
said in a cutting tone. 

Van Zwieten bowed his fair head in a 
cruelly ironical manner. ' I beg your 
pardon, I did not know I was a day after 
the fair. But it seems to me most strange 
that you should be married when your 
father promised me that I should be your 
husband.' 

' I did nclhing of the sort,' said Mr 
Scarse, bluntly. ' I promised to consent 
to your marrying my daughter if she chose 
to have you. But as she had a very dis- 
tinct preference for Captain Burton, I 
agreed to that. And I'm glad of it ! ' he 
cried with energy ; ' at least she has mar- 
ried an honourable man ! ' 

' I also am an honourable man. I have 
kept your secret — up to the present — ' 

' My secret ? ' cried the other, con- 
temptuously. ' Oh ! tell it to whom you 
please.' 

Van Zwieten bit his lip to prevent an 
exhibition of the surprise he felt at this 
unexpected defiance. ' In that case I 
had better begin with Miss Sea — I beg 
your pardon — with Mrs Burton. She 
would like to know — ' 

' She does know,' interrupted Brenda, 
in her clear voice. 'There is nothing 
left for you to tell, Meinherr van Zwieten ! ' 

' Ach ! You make me out to be Dutch, 
then ! You are wrong — I am English.' 

' Quite so ; until it suits you to become 
a Boer.' 

' We shall see. Oh, you will not have 
it all your own way in this war, you Eng- 
lish. But enough of this,' he went on 
imperiously. ' You know, then, that your 
father and his twin brother killed Mr 
Malet ? ' 

' I know nothing of the sort,' retorted 
Brenda, with spirit. ' You had better 
take the case into court and prove your 
assertion.' 

' Think of the scandal ! ' 
'I can face all that,' cried Mr Scarce, 
sharply. ' If you think to blackmail mc, 



Van Zwieten, you Have come to the wron.5 
person. So f ar as what I told you is con- 
cerned, you are harmless ; you c-an do 
nothing.' 

'Perhaps not. I won't even try. T.ut 
the arrows are not all out of my quiver 
yet. For you, old man, I care nothing, 
you cross not my path, so I can spare 
you; but as for Brenda—' 

The girl turned fearlessly upon him. 
' I will thank you, sir, to address me by 
my proper name, which is Mrs Burton ! ' 

Van Zwieten winced. He felt his posi- 
tion intensely, though he put a brave face 
on it. Brenda saw this, and realised the 
strain he was putting on himself to keep 
down his temper. 

' Mrs Burton ! Well, let it be so for 
the present — until you change it for Mrs 
van Zwieten.' 

' That will be never ! ' 

' Oh, yes — when you are a widow.' 

Brenda shuddered, and fell back on 
her cushions ; but her father leaned for- 
ward and shook his fist at the Dutchman. 
' I am an old man,' he said hoarsely, ' and 
you are young and strong, but if you in- 
sult my daughter I will strike you ! In 
any case, you will leave the carriage at 
the next station.' 

'It is yet a quarter of an hour away,' 
sneered Van Zwieten, looking at his 
watch, 'so that will be time enough to 
say what I have to say. I do not think 
you will ask me to go when you hear all ? ' 

' I am not afraid,' said Brenda, coolly, 
' my father is here to protect me. And 
we are in England, Meinherr van Zwieten, 
not in your barbarous country of the 
Transvaal.' 

' Ah, you English will find it sufficiently 
civilised in warfare,' said the man, 
savagely. ' But I will come to the point 
You are married to this Captain Burton. 
Is that true, or is it not?' 

' True ? Of course it is true.' 

'Let me speak, father,' put in Brenda. 
' Yes, it is true. We were married at St 
Chad's Church, Brighton, four days ago.' 

'Just time for a honeymoon — a very 
short honeymoon,' sneered Van Zwieten; 
but the perspiration was on his face, and 
the girl could see that he was suffering. 
She was glad to see it, and continued to 
speak, knowing that every w. >rd she uttered 
cauS'.d the villain intense pain. Call us 



68 



A Traitor in London 



as Van Zwieten was in most things, he 
was a true lover, and suffered only as a 
strong man like himself could suffer. 

' If you like to go to the church you 
can see the register,' she went on care- 
lessly. 'My father was present, so was 
Lady Jenny Malet.' She looked him full 
in the face as she mentioned the name, 
but he did not flinch. Whatever power 
Lady Jenny might have over him, he was 
apparently ignorant of its existence. 

' It is a pity you did not ask me,' he 
said, clenching his hands. ' I should 
have completed the happy family party. 
Well, Burton has escaped now. We shall 
see if he will be so fortunate in the future.' 

'Ah ! you would murder him — I know 
it 1 ' said Brenda, scornfully. ' But he 
can take care of himself.' 

'Very likely, Mrs Burton ; but can he 
protect himself from the law ? ' 

'- What do you mean ? That you are 
going to accuse my husband of Mr Malet's 
murder? You are quite capable of it.' 

' I am ; and I can prove that he is 
guilty.'^ 

Mr Scarse cast an angry glance at the 
man. ' You are a liar, Van Zwieten,' he 
said savagely. ' I wonder how I ever 
came to believe in you. You accuse 
first me of the crime, then my brother; 
now it is Harold Burton you would ruin. 
We are all three innocent.' 

'Two of you, we will say. But the 
third is guilty.' Van Zwieten spoke, 
slowly, looking at Brenda the while. ' I 
found the pistol with which the murder 
was committed. It has a name on the 
butt. And the name is that of Harold 
Burton ! ' 

The girl grew deathly pale and clasped 
her hands. ' I do not believe it,' she 
said bravely. 

' Well,' drawled Van Zwieten, throwing 
himself back, ' I can prove it by showing 
you the pistol — it is at my rooms in Duke 
Street. If you choose to come there — 
with your father, of course — you can see 
it. Yes, you may look and look ; but 
your husband and no other killed 
Malet' 

' It is false. There was no reason why 
Harold should kill Mr Malet.' 

' Oh, pardon me, I think he had a very 
good reason,' corrected Van Zwieten, 
bh'vilv; 'at least Caotain Burton thought 



it a sufficient reason when I told him 
what I knew at Chippingholt' 

' Ah ! ' flashed out Mrs Burton, ' so this 
was what you told Harold to make him 
leave without saying good-bye to me ! ' 

1 It was. I showed him the pistol, and 
he admitted that it was his — ' 

' But not that he had used it ! ' 

' You are very sharp, Mrs Burton ; but 
that is just what he did confess.' 

' I don't believe it ! ' cried the girl. 

'Nor I,' joined in Mr Scarse. 'You 
are speaking falsely.' 

Van Zwieten shrugged his mighty 
shoulders. 'As you please,' said he. 
' If I show it to the lawyers you may find 
that what I say is true. If it was not true 
how could I have made Harold Burton 
leave Chippingholt? Why did he keep 
his marriage with you a secret ? Because 
he feared what I had to say about him. 
I had decided not to betray him if he left 
the lady to me. As it is, I shall speak.' 

' As you choose ! ' said Brenda. ' You 
can prove no motive for such a crime. 
Harold left Chippingholt because you 
told him that Mr Malet had gambled 
away his twenty thousand pounds, and 
the poor dear did not want to tell me of 
his loss.' 

' Ob, yes, I told him that also. I knew 
more of Malet's private affairs than you 
think. But Burton did not know the 
money was lost at the time he murdered 
Malet. He murdered him to get it.' 

' You speak very confidently,' returned 
Brenda, ironically. ' You will now of 
course put the matter into the hands of 
the police.' 

' Well, no ; I shall not do that just now. 
However, as I see you do not believe me, 
I should like to give you an opportunity 
of changing your mind. Come with your 
father to my rooms in St James's to- 
morrow and I will show you the revolver.' 

' I daresay you have the weapon,' put 
in Mr Scarse; 'but how do we know 
where you found it ? ' 

' I can prove that. Come to-morrow 
and convince yourselves. Then I will 
make my terms.' 

' Your terms ? ' 

' Yes. My silence must be bought — 
but not with money. You, Mrs Burton, 
must give me your promise to marry me 
when you become a widow.' 



Checkmated 



6 9 



' I am not a widow yet,' said Brenda, 
trying hard to keep up her courage, ' and, 
please God, I shall never be ! ' 

' Amen ! ' sneered Van Zwieten, as the 
train slowed down, 'we shall see. But I 
hold the winning card, and I intend to 
play it for my own benefit. Here we are, 
so I will leave you now. To-morrow at 
three I shall be at my rooms. If you do 
not come I will see the police about the 
matter.' 

' Very good,' said Brenda, much to her 
father's surprise. ' I will be there.' 

' Come now, you are sensible ! ' sneered 
Van Zwieten ; ' I shall make something 
out of you yet, Mrs Burton.' 

' Get out ! ' shouted Mr Scarse, fiercely, 
' or I'll throw you out ! ' 

'Ah, bad temper, Scarse. Keep that 
for those who are fighting our Republics. 
Au revoir until to-morrow,' and Van 
Zwieten, jumping lightly out of the com- 
partment, made for a smoking-carriage. 

'Why did you agree to meet the black- 
guard ? ' fumed Mr Scarse when the train 
was moving off again. ' You know he is 
lying ! ' 

' No, I don't think he is.' 

' What ? do you believe your husband 
guilty?' 

' I wouldn't believe it if an angel from 
heaven told me so ! ' flashed out Mrs 
Harold Burton. ' But Van Zwieten has 
this revolver with Harold's name on it or 
he would not dare to speak so confidently. 
I will find out where he got it. He might 
have stolen it from Harold, or he might 
have had the name put on the silver plate. 
Harold is not here to contradict him. To- 
morrow we will take Wilfred with us. He 
will know if the revolver is Harold's or 
not. In the meantime I will see Lady- 
Jenny. Harold told me to go to her if 
Mr van Zwieten made himself disagree- 
able. The time seems to have come.' 

'But what can she do?' 

' I don't know ; but that is what I must 
find out. We will baffle this man yet. 
Oh, father, and to think that you once 
wanted me to marry him ! ' 

' I was wrong, my dear, very wrong,' 
Mr Scarse said penitently; 'but at any 
rate you are married now to the man of 
y>»i;r choice.' 

'Harold, my darling!' Brenda's tears 
burst out afiesh. 'God knows if I shall 



ever see him again ! ' She wept bitterly. 
Truly, poor Brenda was h.ird beset. 

Meantime Van Zwieten was swearing at 
his own stupidity in not having kept a 
sharper eye on Harold. But he had not 
expected the young man — whom he had 
regarded as his victim — to display such 
daring. At Chippingholt he had warned 
him that if he married Brenda he would 
denounce him. Well, he had married 
Brenda, and was now well beyond reach 
on his way to Africa. More than ever was 
Van Zwieten determined that he should 
pay for what he had done. He had but 
exchanged the gallows in England for a 
Boer bullet in South Africa. Then, when 
he was no more, his widow should become 
Mrs van Zwieten. That he swore should 
be. He had failed once, he would not 
fail again. From Waterloo he went to 
Westminster, to get the revolver and take 
it to his rooms, that he might have it 
ready for production on the morrow. 

On arrival there he was met by Mrs 
Hicks. She was in the greatest distress. 
' Oh, sir ! ' she cried, ' a policeman's been 
here, and has taken a box from your room 
— an iron box ! ' 

For the moment Van Zwieten stood 
stunned. Then he rushed upstairs and 
looked on the top of the press. The 
box was gone ! 



CHAPTER XVII 

CHECKMATED 

Strong man as he was, Van Zwieten 
reeled half-fainting against the wall. It 
was true — the box was gone ! In a flash 
he realised his peril. For that box held 
little that was not of a highly compromis- 
ing nature. Once its contents were seen 
by the authorities — as it would seem they 
must be — he would be arrested as a spy, 
imprisoned, perhaps hanged. No in- 
genuity or lying on his part could explain 
away the damning evidence of the papers. 
They spoke for themselves. 

What a fool he had been not to have 
forwarded them to Leyds in the morning 
as he had intended to do. Now it was 
too late, and nothing remained but to fly 
to Pretoria and to throw in his lot openly 
with his employers. Useless now to think 



7° 



A Traitor in London 



of going out as correspondent to an Eng- 
lish newspaper, even were he able to 
manage his escape from London. Those 
in command at the front would surely 
be advised of his true character by the 
home authorities ; and not only that, but 
he would be unmasked in a country under 
military law, where a spy such as he would 
receive but short shrift. Fly he must, 
and that at once. He must get to the 
Continent, and take ship for Delagoa Bay. 
The game was up in England ; there re- 
mained now only the Transvaal. 

After the first emotion of terror had 
passed, Van Zwieten collected his wits 
and set to work to find some way out of 
the difficulty. Had he been in Russia or 
France he would have given himself up to 
despair, for there the authorities were 
lynx-eyed and relentless. But here in 
England he was amongst a people so firmly 
wedded to their old-fashioned laws as to 
freedom and justice that they might fail 
to take the strong measures which the 
situation, so far as they were concerned, 
demanded. He would baffle these pig- 
headed islanders yet, and, with a courage 
born of despair, he set himself to the 
accomplishment of this design. 

Mrs Hicks, pale and tearful, had 
followed him into the room and had 
been witness of his despair. The poor 
woman was too much agitated to speak. 
This unexpected invasion of her quiet 
house by the police had been altogether 
too much for her. Van Zwieten made her 
sit down, and proceeded to question her. 
With many tears and lamentations that she 
had no husband to protect her, she gave 
him all the necessary details, and he lis- 
tened with feverish anxiety to every word. 

' It was about midday, Mr Jones,' said 
Mrs Hicks ; ' yes, I will not deceive you, 
sir, the clock was just on twelve when I 
heard a ring at the door. I left Mary 
Ann in the kitchen and went to see who 
it was. There was a hansom at the door, 
sir, and standing on the mat there was a 
policeman and a lady.' 

' A lady ? ' put in Van Zwieten, looking 
rather puzzled, for he could not guess what 
woman could have interfered with his 
affairs. He had always kept himself clear 
of the sex. ' What lady ? ' 

' I don't rightly know her name, Mr 
Jones, for, to be plain with you, she never 



gave it to me. She was a short lady, sir, 
with black hair and eyes — as black as 
your hat, sir.' 

' Dressed in mourning ? ' asked the 
Dutchman, with a sudden flash of intui- 
tion. 

' As you say, sir — dressed in mourning, 
and beautifully made it was, too. She 
asked if Mr Jones lived here, and if he 
was at home. I said you did lodge with 
me, sir, having no reason to hide it, but 
that you were out. The lady stepped in- 
to the passage then with the policeman.' 

' What was the policeman like ? ' 

'Tall and handsome, with big black 
eyes and a black beard. He was some- 
thing like the gentleman who came to see 
you last night. I beg pardon, did you 
speak, sir?' 

But Van Zwieten had not spoken. He 
had uttered a groan rather of relief than 
otherwise. The thing was not so bad 
after all. In the lady he recognised the 
wife of Mr Malet, though why she should 
have come to raid his rooms was more 
than he could understand. The police- 
man he had no difficulty in recognising as 
Wilfred Burton in a new disguise. With- 
out doubt it was he who had brought Lady 
Jenny Malet to the Westminster rooms. 
And Wilfred knew, too, of the existence 
of the box with its compromising con- 
tents, of which Van Zwieten himself had 
been foolish enough to tell him on the 
previous night, out of a sheer spirit of 
bravado — bravado which he bitterly re- 
gretted when it was too late. He swore 
now in his beard, at his own folly, and 
at Wilfred's daring. 

However, now that he could feel toler- 
ably sure that the authorities had nothing 
to do with the seizure of his papers, he 
felt more at ease. After all, these private 
enemies might be baffled, but of this he 
was not so sure as he had been. The 
several checks which had recently hap- 
pened to him had made him feel less 
sure of himself. 

'Well, Mrs Hicks,' he said, rousing 
himself from his meditations, ' and what 
did these people do ? ' 

Mrs Hicks threw her apron over her 
head and moaned. ' Oh, sir ! ' she said, 
in muffled tones, which came from under 
her apron, ' they told me that you were a 
dangerous man, and that the Government 



Checkmated 



7 1 



had sent the policeman to search your 
rooms. "i'u lady said she knew you 
we 1, and did not want to make a public 
scandal, so she had brought the policeman 
to do it quietly. She asked me for the 
ki-y, and said if I did not give it up she 
would bring in a dozen more policemen 
— and that would have ruined me, 
sir!' 

'And you believed her?' cried Van 
Zwieten, cursing her for a fool. 

Mrs Hicks whipped the apron off her 
head and looked at her lodger in wide- 
eyed amazement. ' Of course I did,' she 
said ; ' I'm that afraid of the police as 
never was. Many a time have I feared 
when I saw poor Hicks — who is dead and 
gone — in the hands of the constables for 
being drunk, poor lamb ! I wouldn't re- 
sist the police ; would you, sir?' 

'Never mind,' he said, seeing it was 
useless to argue with her. ' You let them 
into my rooms, I suppose ? ' 

'As you may guess, sir, me being a 
law-abiding woman, though the taxes are 
that heavy. Yes, sir, I took them up to 
your room and left them there.' 

' Ach ! v, hat did you do that for?' 

' I could not help myself, sir. The 
policeman ordered me to go away, and it 
was not for me to disobey the law. I left 
them there for twenty minutes, and 
then I came up to see what they were 
doing. The policeman had gone and so 
hnd the cab, though I swear to you, Mr 
Jones, that I never heard it drive away. 
The lady was sitting, cool as you like, at 
your desk there, writing.' 

' What was she writing ? ' 

'That, sir, I don't rightly know, as she 
put her letter into an envelope, and here 
it is.' 

He snatched the letter Mrs Hicks pro- 
dvced from her pocket, and said some- 
thing not very complimentary to that good 
w man's brains. She was indignant, and 
would fain have argued with him, but he 
silenced her with a gesture, and hurriedly 
read '.It letter. As he had already guessed, 
the writer was Lady Jenny Malet ; and 
she merely asked him to call at her house 
in C'irz r 'n Strtet for explanations. So 
she put ; t. =om>:what ironically perhaps, 
aid Viin /^victen swore once again — this 
tirre at the phrase. He put the letter in 
his pocket, determined to accept the in- 



vitation, and to have it out with this all 
too clever lady. Meanwhile Mrs Hicks 
rose to make a speech. 

' I have to give you notice, sir,' she said 
in her most state'y tones, 'as I have not 
been in the habit of letting my rooms to 
folk as is wanted by the police. You will 
be pleased to leave this day week, which, 
I believe, was the agreement.' 

'I intend to leave this day,' retorted 
her lodger. ' I told you I was going, and 
I have not seen fit to alter my decision. 
I will send for my furniture this afternoon, 
and I will pay your account now.' 

'Thank you, sir. I shall be most 
obliged, and I think you should pay me 
extra for the disgrace you have brought 
on my house. Oh,' wailed Mrs Hicks, 
' to think I should have lodged murderers 
and forgers ! ' 

Van Zwieten started at the word ' mur- 
derer,' but he recovered himself quickly. 
He dismissed her with a shrug. 'Go 
down and make your account out,' he 
said. ' You have done mischief enough 
already.' 

' Oh, indeed ! ' cried the woman, shrilly. 
' I do like you, sir, disgracing my honest 
house, and then turning on me ! I have 
been deceived in you, Mr Jones; never 
again will I let my lodgings to mysterious 
gentlemen. And when they put you in 
the dock, sir, I'll come and see you 
hanged ! ' and with this incoherent speech 
Mrs Hicks tottered out of the room. 

Left alone, Van Zwieten lost no time in 
vain lamentation. He had been beaten by 
his enemies for the present ; he could only 
wait to see if the tide of war would turn. 1 1 
would be necessary to make terms with 
Lady Jenny and Wilfred, for they now 
possessed the evidences of his employ- 
ment in England. But on his side he 
could use his knowledge of the murder 
and of Harold's connection with it — as 
witness the revolver — to keep them quiet. 
If they could bite, so could he. 

Meanwhile he gathered together his 
personal belongings and packed them ; 
he left the drawers of his desk empty, and 
he put the clothes of Mr Jones into a large 
trunk. By the time Mrs Hicks arrived 
with her bill he was quite ready. Nor 
had he left any evidence which would 
identify Mr Jones of Westminster wi:h 
Mr van Zwieten of St James's. Beaten 



72 



A Traitor in London 



he might be, but he would retreat in 
good order. 

' This is my bill, sir,' said Mrs Hicks. 
' I have charged nothing for the disgrace 
to my house ! ' 

' Just as well,' retorted he. ' You would 
gain nothing by that. There is the money 
— in cash. I suppose you would prefer it 
to my cheque.' 

'Well, sir,' said Mrs Hicks softened 
somewhat by the gold, ' you have always 
paid up like a gentleman, I will say, and 
I hope they won't hang you ! ' 

• Thank you,' said Van Zwieten, dryly, 
as he fastened his glove; 'that is very 
kind of you. I will see after my furniture 
this afternoon. Is there a cab at the door ? 
All right. Send the man up for my luggage. 
And, Mrs Hicks ' — he turned on her, as 
Mrs Hicks described it afterwards, like a 
tiger — 'it will be as well for you to hold 
your tongue about this business. By the 
way, how did you know the policeman 
took away my box ? ' 

' Mary Anne was watching on the stairs, 
sir, and she saw the policeman come down 
with it,' said the landlady, with dignity. 
' Oh, I won't say anything, sir, you may be 
sure. I only want to keep away from the 
law. I hope you'll be as lucky ! ' and Mrs 
Hicks bowed her suspicious guestoutof the 
house. She was immensely relieved when 
she saw his cab drive round the corner. 

In another ten minutes Mr Jones was 
transformed into Mr van Zwieten, and was 
established in his rooms in Duke Street, St 
James's. But he had no intention of stay- 
ing there long. The place was evidently 
too hot to hold him, or would be unless 
he could threaten and bully Lady Jenny 
and Wilfred into surrender of that precious 
box. In any event his great desire was to 
go south. His work in England was done, 
and well don e. Even Ley ds acknowledged 
that. But for Van Zwieten's report of the 
rusty condition of the British army ; the 
out-of-date ordnance ; the little way these 
islanders had of putting incompetent men 
in office, to be rendered still more incom- 
petent by an antiquated system of red- 
tapeism ; and the inconceivable folly prac- 
tised of allowing the civil power to override 
the opinion of military experts ; but for all 
these things the Republics — well armed 
though they were — would not have de- 
clared war. The world was amazed at their 



daring. But their two Presidents knew 
what they were about, and so did Leyds. 
His business it was to spread reports which 
would gain the sympathyof the Continental 
Powers ; that of the burghers to hurl them- 
selves on the British, all unprepared as 
they were through the folly of the peace 
party. Now that the glove had been thrown 
down, Van Zwieten was all eagerness to get 
to the front. How useful he could be to his 
adopted country at this juncture ! But 
were he in the British camp as war corre- 
spondent to an English newspaper, his 
usefulness would be trebled. And now it 
seemed as though his enemies were to 
upset all these plans by this one coup ! 

However, there was nothing for it now 
but to face them bravely and learn the 
worst. Then he could take what steps 
were possible to frustrate them. 

Meanwhile Brenda was pouring out her 
troubles to Lady Jenny Malet and telling 
her all about Van Zwieten and his threats. 
She had gone there full of anxiety to enlist 
the little widow's sympathies, and of indig- 
nation at the charge made by the Dutch- 
man against Harold. Having made herself 
as clear as she knew how, and having re- 
lated all the facts, she waited with some 
impatience for Lady Jenny's opinion, 
which was not immediately forthcoming. 
Indeed, it was some time before she spoke. 

The drawing-room was both tastefully 
and extravagantly furnished. Lady Jenny 
might be a spendthrift, but she was also an 
artist, and alas ! her period of splendour 
was drawing to a close. Already Chipping- 
holt Manor had been sold to gratify the 
greedy creditors of its late owner. The 
house in Curzon Street was her own prop- 
erty under her marriage settlement, and 
this with ten thousand pounds from the 
insurance office was all she had in the 
world. So by the advice of her lawyer she 
had invested the money and let the house 
furnished. Now she was going abroad 
to practise economy in some continental 
town. All her plans were made ; and this 
was the last week of her prosperity. She 
only lingered in England at the express 
request of Wilfred, who had made her pro- 
mise to help him all she could to trap Van 
Zwieten. Brenda had come on the same 
errand; and now Lady Jenny sat and 
pondered how much she could tell her 
about the man. 



Checkmated 



73 



' Do speak to me,' said Brenda. ' I 
am so afraid for Harold.' 

' You need not be,' replied the widow, 
and her visitor noticed how worried and 
haggard she looked. ' He is perfectly 
safe, I assure you. Van Zwieten shall 
not harm him ! ' 

' But he accuses him of committing the 
murder ! ' 

' So you said. But that doesn't matter. 
Whoever killed poor Gilbert, it was not 
Harold Burton.' 

' Tell me how Harold's revolver came 
to be found on the spot ? ' 

' I have an idea, but I cannot tell you 
— at all events, not just yet. Wait till I 
have seen Van Zwieten.' 

' Are you going to see him ? ' 

' I think so — to-night, about nine 
o'clock. At least I left a note at his 
rooms which I think will bring him. I can 
only say that if he is a wise man he will 
come. Then I will settle him once and for 
all so far as Harold is concerned.' 

' Lady Jenny, tell me who do you think 
killed your husband?' 

She looked at the girl sharply. ' Did 
your father ever tell you he had a brother ?' 
she asked. 

' Yes, he told me all about it ; and how 
your wicked husband ran away with his 
wife ! I beg your pardon, I should not 
speak so of Mr Malet.' 

'You need not apologise,' the widow 
said bitterly. 'Gilbert deserves all the 
names you could have called him. He 
was a bad man ; and even though he is 
dead, and though he was punished by 
a violent death, I have not forgiven 
him.' 

' Oh, don't say that ; it is wrong ! ' 

' I know it is, but I can't help it. I have 
southern blood in my veins, and I never 
forgive. I am glad your father told you 
the truth — it saves me from having to 
repeat a very painful story. That poor 
uncle of yours told me all about it, and 
how Gilbert had deceived and ill-treated 
his wife. I asked my husband, and he 
denied the story ; but I saw the woman 
myself and made certain it was true. Then 
I hated Gilbert. Not for that only— there 
were other things. Before he married 
me, and after, he deceived me. I could 
have taken his punishment into my own 
hands, but I felt sure that Heaven wuu.d 



check his wicked career. But to go on 
with my story. That night I got a note 
from your uncle telling me that his wife 
was dead. I saw Gilbert in the library 
and showed him the letter. It was just 
before he went out. I reminded him that 
the man — and a madman at that — was 
hanging about the place. The boy who 
brought the letter had told me so, and I 
warned him against going out. He laughed 
at me, and was most insulting. Then he 
went, and I never saw him again until his 
body was brought in. I knew then that 
the vengeance of Heaven had fallen ! ' 

Brenda looked at her with a white face. 
'What do you mean?' she asked in a 
whisper. 

'Child, can you not guess? It was 
Robert who had killed him ! ' 

' Impossible ! ' cried Brenda. ' My father 
found my uncle and took him home with 
him. At the time of the murder Uncle 
Robert was in our cottage.' 

' Is this true ? ' said the widow, and a 
bright colour came into her face. ' Then 
who was the man talking to Giibert in the 
library? There was someone with him 
just before nine o'clock. I was going to 
the Rectory to meet Harold about your 
business, and I went to the library to see 
if Gilbert had come back. I was afraid 
of Robert Scarse and of what he might do, 
half crazed as he was by his wife's death. 
Little as I loved my husband, I did not 
want that to happen. The door of the 
room was locked, but I heard voices. I 
went out without thinking any more about 
it. Oh, I swear to you, Brenda, that I 
have always believed it was your uncle 
who killed him ! Who was it then ? The 
revolver ! — ah ! and Van Zwieten has it ! ' 
She jumped up and clasped her hands. 
' I see ! I know ! I know ! ' 

' What ? ' asked the girl, rising in alarm. 

' Never mind — never mind. I will tell 
you soon. Go now, Brenda, and leave 
me to see Van Zwieten. Oh, 1 know how 
to manage him now ! ' 

' Is it him you mean ? ' 

' He is worse than a murderer,' Lady 
Jenny cried. ' He is a spy ! ' 

' I was sure of it. But how do you 
know ? ' 

'I know; and I can't tell you how. 
As to the murder, he has to do with that 
too. I believe he did it himself.' 



74 



A Traitor in London 



' But how do you know ? ' repeated 
Brenda. ' How do you know ? ' 

' No matter. I am sure he fired that 
shot, and I can prove it.' 

' Prove it, and hang him ! ' cried Brenda, 
and there was bitter hatred in her voice. 

The little widow sat down again, and 
the fire died out of her eyes. ' No, I can- 
not hang him, even though he is guilty. 
There are things — oh, I can't tell you. 
The man must go unpunished for the sake 
of— go away, child, and leave it all to me.' 

' But I want to know the truth— I must 
save Harold ! ' 

' / will save Harold. He is safe from 
Van Zwieten. As to the truth, you shall 
know it when once he is out of the 
country.' 

Brenda had to be satisfied with this, 
for her friend absolutely refused to tell 
her any more. But she left feeling that 
her husband was safe from the intrigues 
of the Dutchman, and that was all she 
cared about. 

Left alone, Lady Jenny clenched her 
hands. 

' If I could only hang him ! ' she 
muttered. ' But that is impossible ! ' 



CHAPTER XVIII 

EXIT VAN ZWIETEN , 

As Lady Jenny had expected, Mr van 
Zwieten proved himself to be a wise man 
by presenting himself in her drawing-room 
at the appointed hour. He was in even- 
ing dress, calm and composed as usual, 
and greeted her with a low bow. She 
could not help admiring his self-posses- 
sion. His reputation, his liberty even, 
was at stake, and yet he never turned a 
hair. And with these feelings uppermost, 
she received him more kindly, perhaps, 
than she would otherwise have done. The 
Dutchman, taking his cue from her, that 
the conversation, despite its probable sen- 
sational character, was not to be conducted 
on melodramatic lines, reciprocated her 
politeness. Anyone seeing the pair might 
have imagined that they were discussing 
nothing of more importance than ' Shake 
speare and the musical glasses,' rather 
than a subject which, to one of them at 
least, meant life or death. 



The hostess, in a black silk dinner dress, 
with a few well-chosen jewels, looked un- 
usually pretty in the light of the lamps, 
and Van Zwieten was an admirer of pretty 
women, and knew well how to make him- 
self agreeable to them. Had the subject- 
matter of their conversation been only 
less serious, he would have enjoyed him- 
self. As it was, he did not find the hour 
he spent with her irksome. For a few 
moments the two antagonists discussed 
general topics, and then Lady Jenny came 
suddenly to the point. The man watched 
her warily. Pretty she might be, but 
that was no reason why he should allow 
her to get the better of him. It was a 
duel of words, and the combatants were 
well matched. 

'Well, Mr van Zwieten,' began th^ 
widow, ' I suppose you were somewhat 
astonished at my invitation.' 

'I cannot deny that I was, my dear 
lady. It is, perhaps, a trifle disconcerting 
to find one's rooms robbed, and then to 
receive an invitation from the robber ! ' 

' Oh, come, that is rather harsh, is it 
not? It was what I should call simple 
justice.' 

' Indeed ! ' replied the other drily.. ' It 
would interest me to learn how you make 
that out.' 

'Oh, easily. I can give you two reasons. 
In the first place, you threatened — did 
you not ? — to accuse a man of a crime 
which you knew he had not committed. 
In the second, you are a spy, to put it 
plainly, and both Wilfred Burton and I 
felt it was our duty to secure proofs of 
your guilt. We are not all fools in this 
country ! ' 

'That is a charge one would hardly 
bring against you,' returned Van Zwieten, 
with emphasis, 'nor against that young 
man. Had I suspected him of so much 
cleverness, I should have taken more 
elaborate precautions.' 

' Ah ! you should never undervalue 
your enemies ! Well, I suppose you know 
that you are in my power ? ' 

' And in Wilfred Burton's also ! ' 

' No. I can manage him. He has 
left the decision of this matter in my 
hands. I am sure you ought to be pleased 
at that ! ' 

' I am. Because I see you mean to 
let me off.' 



Exit Van Zwieten 



75 



'That depends!' she said, and shot a 
keen glance at him. ' I asktd you to 
come neve because it was necessary that 
I should ^eo you, sir — but I despise you 
none the less for that. You are a spy ! 
— the meanest of all created creatures.' 

Van Zwieten held up his hand, lie 
was quite unmoved. ' My dear lady, let 
us come to business. Believe me, preach- 
ing of that kind has very little effect on 
me. I might defend myself by saying 
that I have every right to use craft on 
behalf of the Transvaal fox against the 
mighty English lion, but I will content 
myself with holding my tongue. I would 
remind you that I have very little time to 
spare. I intend to leave this country 
to-morrow morning.' 

' How do you know that I shall allow 
you to go ? ' 

' You would hardly have invited me to 
this interview else,' Van Zwieten said 
cunningly. ' You have something you 
want from me. Well, I will give it in 
exchange for my safety — and that in- 
cludes, of course, your silence.' 

' It is clever of you to put it that 
way,' responded the widow, coolly. 'It 
so happens that you are right. I intend 
to make a bargain with you.' 

' Always provided that I agree.' 

'Of course,' said she, airily; 'but in 
this case I really think you will agree.' 

' I am not so sure of that.' Van Zwieten 
narrowed his eyes and blinked wickedly. 
' You forget that I also know something.' 

' For that reason I asked you here. Let 
me advise you not to pit yourself against 
me, my good man, or you may get the 
worst of it. A word from me and you 
would be kicking your heels in jail this 
very night.' 

' Probably.' Van Zwieten had too much 
to gain to notice her threat. ' But you 
will never say that word.' 

' You can't be quite sure of that yet. 
Well, let us get to business. I am not 
anxious to spend any more time in your 
company than is necessary.' 

'I assure you the feeling is mutual. 
May I ask how you found my rooms in 
Westminster? ' 

' I think you know that very well after 
the visitor you received last night. I was 
told about them and you by Mr Wilfred 
Burton. He knew long ago that you were 



a spy, and he has been watching you for 
many months.' 

' He is not so very clever then. All 
these months — and yet he has got no 
further than this ! ' 

' How much further do you want him 
to go ? He has the box with all your 
papers — your treasonable papers — your 
orders from Dr Leyds. Really, Mr van 
Zwieten, you should have taken a little 
more care of that box ! The top of a press 
was hardly a safe place to hide it. But 
perhaps you had been reading Poe's story 
of the " Purloined Letter." ' 

'Never mind what I read,' he said, 
evidently annoyed at her flippancy. ' Let 
us confine ourselves to business. The 
idea of the disguised policeman was yours, 
I suppose?' 

' Yes, sir, it was. I felt sure that the 
landlady would not let us enter your room 
to make the search unless she was thor- 
oughly frightened, so I suggested that he 
should get himself up as a member of the 
force. Our little stratagem succeeded to 
perfection. Mrs Hicks — that is her name, 
I believe — was terrified and let us in at 
once. Then we found your box, and I 
sent Wilfred away with it while I stayed 
and wrote my note to you. Oh, what a 
time we had over your papers ! You 
really are very clever, Mr van Zwieten. 
What a lot the Foreign Secretary would 
give to see what we saw ; and, as it hap- 
pens, he is a personal friend of mine. I 
might sell it, you know,' she went on 
coolly. ' I am poor enough now, and 
they would give me a good price.' 

' Not such a price as would recompense 
you for what I could say about your 
husband,' retorted the Dutchman. 

She laughed gaily. 'Oh, that? My 
good man, I know all about that ! Do 
you think I should have taken the trouble 
to talk to you if I had not known that 
my husband had been doing all your 
dirty work ? ' 

'Yes, he did my work,' Van Zwieten 
said viciously. ' He was my creature — 
paid by me with Transvaal gold. You 
call me a spy, Lady Jane Malet. Your 
own husband was one— and not only a 
spy, but a traitor ! ' 

' I know it,' she said, and her face was 
very pale, ' and for that reason I am glad 
he is dead, terrible though his end was.' 



7 6 



A Traitor in London 



' I daresay you helped him out of the 
world ! ' sneered Van Zwieten. 

' That is false, and you know it. I had 
no idea of what my husband was until I 
found his papers after his death. Had I 
known that when he was yet alive, I might 
have killed him ! ' She clenched her hand. 
' Yes, I might have shot him, the mean, 
cowardly hound ! He spoke against the 
Boers, and yet he took their money ! ' 

' Oh, you must not blame him for that. 
That was my idea.' 

' It is worthy of you. Oh ! ' — she 
started up and paced the room in a fury — 
' to think that I should have been married 
to such a creature ! To think that I should 
have lived on gold paid for the betrayal 
of my country ! The cur ! The Judas ! 
Thank God he is dead.' And then, 
turning abruptly on the Dutchman, ' How 
did you gain him over to your side ? ' she 
asked. ' Gilbert was a man once — a man 
and a gentleman. How did you contrive 
to make him a — a — thing ? ' 

'Easily enough,' he said placidly. He 
could not understand why she made all 
this fuss. * Two years ago I met him at 
Monte Carlo. I watched him gamble and 
lose. I heard he was in the War Office, 
or had some connection with it, so I made 
his acquaintance and induced him to play 
still higher. We became intimate enough 
to discuss money matters — his, of course 
— and he told me that he was very hard 
up. He blamed you.' 

' I daresay,' returned Lady Jenny coldly. 
•Goon.' 

' Well, I put the matter to him delicately. 
I asked him to find out certain details 
connected with your military organisation, 
and I told him he would be well paid for 
the information. I am bound to say he 
kicked at first, but I went on tempting him 
with bigger sums ; and he was so desper- 
ately hard up that he closed with me in 
the end. He soon did all I wanted, and, 
once in my power, I trained him to be 
most useful, but I kept on paying him 
well — oh, yes, I paid him very well.' 

He made this villainous confession in 
so cool a tone that Lady Jenny could have 
struck him. It was horrible to think that 
she had been the wife of so degraded a 
creature as Van Zwieten now described 
her husband to have been, and, 'Thank 
God he is dead ! ' she cried again. ' It 



would have been worse for both of us if I 
had known it while he was alive. It might 
have been I, then, who would have fired 
the shot. But after all, I suppose it was 
better that he should fall by your hand ! ' 

The Dutchman started from his seat. 
'I am a spy, Lady Jenny,' he cried, 'but 
I am not a murderer. I leave that sort of 
thing to you ! ' 

'To me? Do you accuse me of the 
murder of my husband ? ' 

' I do. Captain Burton, while staying 
at your house at Chippingholt, left his re- 
volvers behind. You found them; you 
took one and stole out after your husband 
and shot him. I found the weapon. Do 
you take me for a fool ? Where were you 
when you pretended to go to the Rectory ? 
— out in the orchards tracking your hus- 
band ! You killed him because he was in 
love with Mrs Scarse. Deny it if you can ! ' 

' I do deny it. It was all over between 
him and Mrs Scarse before he married me. 
He cared so little for the poor woman that 
he did not go to her when she was dying. 
That madman, her husband, came down 
to tell Gilbert Of her death. They met 
and had a struggle. I thought it was he 
who had killed him ; and indeed, if he 
had, I should not have blamed him. As 
it was, you were the man — you, who 
wanted to get rid of your tool ! ' 

Van Zwieten threw himself back in his 
chair with a laugh. 'You talk nonsense,' 
he said roughly. ' Why should I want to 
get rid of a man who was useful to me ? 
No one was more sorry than I when poor 
Malet died. Not from any sentimental 
point of view — oh, dear no ! — but because 
he had become quite a necessary person 
to me. I found the revolver in the grass, 
but it was not I who had used it. If I 
had,' he added cynically, 'I should have 
no hesitation in telling you. 1 

' You did murder him ! ' insisted Lady 
Jenny, fiercely. ' I know where you found 
the revolver — not, as you say, on the grass 
— no ! it was in the library on the night 
of the murder. Gilbert had been shoot 
ing at a mark in the afternoon ; and at 
night — at nine o'clock — I heard voices in 
the library. It Was you who were with 
him ; you, who came to take away treason- 
able papers from my unhappy husband. 
You got what you wanted, and you got 
the weapon, and he went back with you 



Exit Van Zwictcn 



77 



to Mr Scarse's cottage. You wanted to 
get rid of him without danger to yourself ; 
you tried to lay the guilt on Harold Bur- 
ton to rid yourself of a rival ! You shot 
Gilbert in the orchards, and you threw 
away the revolver to implicate Harold and 
walked back to the cottage; you — you 
murderer ! — you Cain ! ' 

She stopped, half choked by her emo- 
tions. Van Zwieten seized the oppor- 
tunity to deny once again the truth of her 
accusation. 

• I tell you I did not kill Malet ! ' 

' Then who did ? ' 

' I don't know. I thought it was Cap- 
tain Burton ; upon my soul I did ! ' 

' Have you a soul ? ' Lady Jenny asked 
with scorn. ' I should doubt it. How- 
ever, I stick to my opinion — I believe 
that you killed my husband. Oh, you 
need not look alarmed, I am not going to 
give you up. I have done all I wanted — 
I have married Harold to Brenda by tell- 
ing him I could keep you from accusing 
him of the murder ! ' 

' And can you ? ' sneered Van Zwieten. 
He was fighting every inch. 

' I am sure I can. I have your box, re- 
member. For my husband's sake I spare 
you now. I don't want an honourable 
name to be smirched through him. I 
don't want to be pointed at as the widow 
of a spy and a traitor, otherwise I would 
denounce you as the spy and the murderer 
I truly believe you to be. This is my 
bargain, Air van Zwieten. You leave 
England at once, cease to persecute Cap- 
tain Burton and his wife, and I will hold 
my tongue.' 

' And if I refuse ? ' he asked sullenly. 

' If you refuse I will have you arrested 
as you leave this house. You think I can't 
do that, but I can. I have made all my 
preparations. I have left nothing to 
chance. One does not leave things to 
chance in dealing with a man like you, 
Mr van Zwieten,' she sneered. ' Wilfred 
Burton is outside with a couple of police- 
men. I have only to whistle and they 
will come up.' 

But Van Zwieten was not so easily 
bluffed. ' On what grounds, may I ask ? ' 
he said. ' If you wanted to keep this 
matter quiet for the sake of your husband, 
you would not have told the police.' 

' T Hive told them nothing about vonr 



spying business,' she said calmly. ' You 
will be arrested on a charge of being con- 
cerned in the murder of my husband, and 
I can assure you that if you are so arrested 
I will press the charge. On the other 
hand, if you agree to my terms, I will let 
you go free. I can easily make things 
right with the police by telling them that 
I have been mistaken. Oh, all this is 
not regular, I know; but I have some 
little political influence, and I am usirg 
it for my own benefit — and for yours, if 
it comes to that.' 

He looked at her savagely. Had he 
obeyed his inclinations he would have 
wrung her neck. It was gall and worm- 
wood to him to be beaten so thoroughly 
by a woman. But being in England, and 
not in a country like the Transvaal, where 
such a trifling matter as murder would be 
winked at, he had to suppress his homi- 
cidal desires. Quickly reviewing the sit- 
uation, he could see nothing for it but 
to yield to the superior power of the enemy. 
Twist and wriggle as he might, there was 
no chance of escaping from the trap she 
had prepared for him. The game was 
up, and there remained only the Trans- 
vaal. 

' Well ! ' Lady Jenny asked imperiously, 
' what have you to say ? Will you give 
me your promise to leave Brenda and her 
husband unmolested and to leave England 
at once, or will you allow yourself to be 
arrested and have all the world know what 
manner of life yours has been ? ' 

' If you had me exposed, you also would 
suffer.' 

'Myhusband'sname would be smirched. 
I know that, but I am prepared to run 
that risk. If I had the misfortune to be 
the wife of a scoundrel, that was not my 
fault. But I am getting tired of all this. 
I give you five minutes to make up your 
mind.' 

Van Zwieten assumed a cheerful de- 
meanour. He would take the sting out 
of this defeat by accepting it with a good 
grace. 'There is no need for me to con- 
sider the matter, dear lady,' he said. * I 
am willing to accept your terms.' 

'Very good. Then you leave Eng- 
land—' 

' To-morrow morning.' 

' And you will make no further accusa- 
tions acrninst Cn;it~in Pi;-t^" ?' 



7« 



A Traitor in London 



' No. It would appear that he is inno- 
cent.' 

' And you will not annoy his wife ? ' 

'Since she is his wife, I will promise 
that also.' 

'In that case I need detain you no 
longer, Mr van Zwieten.' 

' One moment. My papers ; what 
about them ? Am I not to have them ? ' 

The audacity of this demand took away 
the little woman's breath. ' No ! Cer- 
tainly not,' she replied sharply. ' I should 
lose my hold over you if I gave them up. 
Besides, you have given quite enough in- 
formation to your friend Dr Leyds. You 
shall not give any more if I can help it.' 

' Then what security have I that you 
will let me go free?' 

' You have my word. And, after all, 
there are no guarantees on either side. 
What security have I for your silence 
save the holding of these papers ? I know 
very well that as soon as you think you 
are safe you will do what injury you can 
to Captain Burton. But I can thwart 
you there too, Mr van Zwieten. Your 
wish is to go to the British camp as a war 
correspondent. You would betray all our 
plans to the enemy. Well, sir, I forbid 
you to stay with my countrymen. If I 
hear — as I assuredly will hear — that you 
are in our camp, I will at once disclose 
the contents of the box, and instructions 
shall be sent to the front for your arrest. 
I can checkmate you on every point.' 

' What about Captain Burton's life ? 
You can't protect that. If you drive me 
to join the Boers, I can easily have him 
shot.' 

Seeing there was no more to be said, 
he rose to go. At the door he paused. 
' You have forced me to consent to what 
you wished,' he said, ' as I can do nothing 
against the power you have unlawfully 
gained over me by stealing my papers. 
But I give you fair warning that I love 
Brenda madly, and that I intend to make 
her my wife in spite of Captain Burton. 
Once in the Transvaal, I shall join hands 
penly with my adopted country. Then 
let Burton look to himself, for I will do 
my best to make his wife a widow.' 

' The future is in the hands of God,' 
Lady Jenny said solemnly. ' You can 
go, Mr van Zwieten.' 

He bowed ironically and went without 



another word. He was glad to have 
escaped so easily ; for, after ail, he could 
do as he liked when he was beyond the 
reach of pursuit. Once he was in the 
Transvaal, Lady Jenny might show the 
papers as much as she wished. Had she 
been wise, he thought, she would have 
kept him as a hostage. But she had let 
her chance slip, and he was free to plot 
and scheme. Needless to say, he intended 
to keep none of the promises he had 
made. 

Then he went out into the night, slipped 
past three men, whom he recognised as 
Wilfred and the constables, and so took 
his departure like a whipped hound. 



CHAPTER XIX 

A TERRIBLE LETTER 

Then succeeded a period of waiting and 
heart-breaking expectation, which Brenda, 
in common with many of her fellow- 
countrymen, bore with quiet heroism. 
Glencoe, Elandslaagte, Rietfontein were 
fought, and victory crowned the British 
arms ; but the triumphs were only achieved 
at a bitter cost. 

The eyes of the world were eagerly 
fixed on this first example of modern war- 
fare since the Franco-German campaign ; 
and the military experts of Europe were 
anxious to learn how the use of scientific 
weapons of terrible destructive force would 
affect the warfare of the future. It was 
soon seen that battles would resolve them- 
selves into artillery duels, since no human 
beings could stand up against the hail of 
shot and shell hurled incessantly from 
repeating machines such as the Mauser, 
Nordenfelt and Maxim. That the Brit- 
ish troops should brave the fury of this 
death-storm proved to the on-looking 
world how brightly the valour of their 
sires burned in their hearts. Even the 
grudging critics of the Continent could 
not withhold their tribute of admiration 
at this matchless daring. 

Mr Scarse had taken a small house, 
and Brenda lived with him. They had 
been very happy together since their re- 
conciliation — as happy, at least, as they 
could be while Harold was at the front. 
He was with Buller, who, sheltered behind 



A terrible Letter 



79 



the Tugela River, had not yet commenced 
to move. How eagerly Brenda scanned 
the papers through those days of sus- 
pense ! Wilfred had gone out as a war 
correspondent, and when his brilliant 
letters appeared, with what delight she 
read them over and over again. Mr 
Scarse still denounced the war as an un- 
just one, and unnecessary to boot, and 
said so in public when he could. Seeing 
it was useless to attempt to alter her 
father's views, Brenda never mentioned 
the subject ; and so they got on very well 
together. Occasionally there came a 
letter from Harold; then Brenda was 
happy for the day, for he always wrote full 
of hope and courage. 

Lady Jenny Malet still lingered in 
England. She had let her Curzon Street 
house and was staying at a quiet hotel. 
Knowing, as she did, that Van Zwieten 
was not wholly crushed, she did not feel 
inclined to leave the country until she 
felt tolerably certain that Harold was safe 
from him. His box she kept in her own 
possession and showed to no one. Only 
in the event of Van Zwieten playing the 
traitor in Natal would she produce them. 
For no other reason would she smirch the. 
memory of her husband. She had ar- 
ranged with Wilfred that if the spy were 
found in the British camp, information 
should be sent to her at once. Then she 
would see the authorities, and he should 
be dealt with according to martial law. 
She explained this to Brenda. 

' Wilfred is with Harold,' she said, 'and 
he will look after him. Van Zwieten 
knows that on the first sign of his break- 
ing his promise I shall not spare him.' 

' But howwjjl that affect him out there?' 
the girl asked' dolefully. 

' It won't affect him if he is openly on 
the side of the enemy ; but if he is spying 
in the British camps he will be taken and 
shot. I don't think he can be with 
General Buller, or Wilfred would have 
denounced him. He is probably at the 
Modder.' 

' But he may be with the enemy ? ' 

' He may be. 1 have heard nothing of 
him since he left London. He went over 
to the Continent — so Wilfred found out 
— and sailed in a German liner for 
Delagoa Bay. Yes, he might be with 
the Boer forces, but I doubt it.' 



' Why do you doubt it ? ' 

' My dear, Van Zwieten can do no harm 
to your husband except by trerchery. Of 
course he might shoot him or have him 
shot in open battle ; but, after all, there 
would not be the same amount of certainty 
about that as there would be if he were to 
get rid of him by underhand means.' 

1 It is terrible ! ' cried Brenda, wringing 
her hinds. ' I don't mind Harold fighting 
as a soldier should — all the other men are 
doing the same — but to have a private 
enemy like Van Zwieten is dreadful.' 

' I don't think he will find it so easy to 
do Harold any harm. After all, Brenda, 
your husband is no fool, and he is on his 
guard.' 

' I do wish I could go out to the front. : 

'With what object? You could do 
nothing to protect him, and he would 
only worry about you. Better stay at 
home, my dear, and try to possess your 
soul in patience. It is hard, I know : but 
remember you are not the only one.' 

Brenda took the advice, and strove to 
calm herself by constant occupation. She 
made every sort of comfort she could 
think of for her husband, and sent him 
everything that might by the remotest 
chance be useful to him. This was her 
great solace, and her father, seeing how it 
cheered her, gave her every encourage- 
ment But it was a terrible time. Every 
day brought some fresh sorrow. The 
Belmont and Graspan victories cheered 
the nation somewhat ; but a period of 
gloom succeeded, and news came of 
Gatacre's reverse and the failure of 
Buller to cross the Tugela. It was then 
that the suspense became almosttoomuch 
for Mrs Burton, for Harold was in the 
thick of the fighting, and on the very 
scene of the disasters. 

But the long-expected blow fell in due 
time, and, as usual, when least anticipated. 

One morning Mr Scarse came down 
first to breakfast, and, as usual, eagerly 
scanned the papers. When his daughter 
entered the room she saw at once that 
something dreadful had happened. 

'What is it, father?' she asked, and 
held out her hand for the Daily Mail. 

' Nothing, my dear — nothing ! ' was 
his answer. But he kept the paper in 
his hand. 'Only the usual disasters. 
Oh, this, unholy war ! ' 



8o 



A Traitor in London 



' Harold — oh, father, tell me the truth 
— he is wounded — dead ! Oh, Harold, 
Harold ! ' 

' No, no,' cried her father, with eager- 
ness, 'he is not wounded.' 

'Then he is killed ! ' shrieked Brenda. 

' Not at all : if he were I should tell 
you. 

She snatched the paper from his hand 
and spread it out ; but tears blinded her, 
and she could not read a word. ' For 
God's sake, tell me the worst !' was her 
cry. ' Is my darling — is Harold — ' 

' He is missing ! ' Mr Scarse said 
roughly. ' Don't look like that, Brenda.' 

'He may have been taken prisoner, and 
the n he would be all right.' 

' Missing!' echoed the poor young wife. 
' Oh, poor Harold, pray God he is not 
dt:ad ! ' 

'Of course he's not. His name would 
be amongst the killed if he were. He is 
missing — that is all. He was taken 
prisoner, no doubt, at the passage of the 
Tugela. Hope for the best, Brenda.' 

' Van Zwieten,' she said faintly. ' I 
hope this is none of his work.' 

' Not it. If he had been in the neigh- 
bourhood Wilfred would have let us know.' 

'This is only one of the ordinary 
chances of war. You should be thankful, 
my dear, that he isn't on the list of killed 
or wounded. The chances are that he is 
a prisoner, and in safety.' 

' I hope so ! I hope so ! But, father, 
let us go down to the War Office ! ' 

' The War Office will know no more 
than is in this paper.' 

' I want to make certain of that. Come, 
father.' 

' My dear child, you have eaten nothing. 
You must have some breakfast first.' 

' I can't eat.' 

'You must. Bear yourself as an 
Englishwoman should, Brenda. Think 
how many women there are at this mo- 
ment mourning over the death of their 
dearest. You, at least, have hope — it 
might have been far worse.' 

Brenda, agitated as she was, could not 
but admit the truth of this, and she forced 
herself to eat. She would need all her 
strength to bear up against this cruel blow. 
After all, as her father had very rightly 
said, things were far from being as bad 
- as they might have been. Her husband's 



name might have been on the list of those 
killed or dangerously wounded. As it 
was, he was only missing. News of him 
might come at any time. She reproached 
herself with ingratitude towards a kind 
Providence. In a more cheerful frame of 
mind she finished her breakfast and got 
ready to go down to the War Office with 
her father. There she had an object- 
lesson in seeing the endurance of women 
whose news was as bad as it could be. 
If her own trouble was hard to bear, how 
infinitely harder was the lot of those whose 
dead lay on the stricken field. 

' Father ! father ! ' she whispered, ' I 
should not repine. I am so much better 
off than these poor things ! ' 

The news of the Tugela disaster had 
brought a large crowd to the War Office, 
and a vast number of people had collected 
in the street. Men and women were 
scanning the fatal lists, and many a heart- 
rending sight did the girl see as she stood 
there waiting for her father, who had gone 
into the office to see if he could gain any 
definite news about his son-in-law. Out- 
side, a proud old lady sat waiting in her 
carriage. She bore herself with dignity, 
but her face was ashen white. And as 
Brenda stood there, she saw a girl come 
out and stagger into the carriage. No 
word was spoken, but in a storm of weeping 
she threw herself on the old lady's breast. 
And the older woman neither wept nor 
cried out, but drove silently away with the 
distracted girl beside her, and she was a 
woman who had given her country of the 
best she had to offer — the life of her son. 

' Oh, poor woman ! poor woman ! ' wept 
Brenda. 

There was a silence as of death in that 
crowded office, save for now and again a 
low whisper or a stifled sob. And still 
the people came and went and came again. 
Brenda waited with sinking heart When 
would her father come ? Would he bring 
good news or bad ? She braced herself 
up to bear the worst. 

' It is all right, Brenda,' she heard him 
say at last — he had come up behind her 
as she stood watching the crowd outside. 
' Harold is safe ! ' 

' Oh, thank God for that ! ' she gasped, 
clinging to his arm. ' He is not wounded, 
is he?' 

' No ! He is a prisoner. He was out 



A. terrible Letter 



81 



with a detachment of his men on patrol 
duty, and the Boers captured the whole 
lot. I exnect he will be sent to Pretoria, 
so you need not be anxious now, my dear.' 

'I don't — I don't know,' she cried 
feverishly. 'If Van Zwieten is there he 
won't escape so easily.' 

' Nonsense ! Van Zwieten is not 
omnipotent, as you seem to think. Thank 
God that your husband is safe, child, and 
don't go out to meet your troubles.' 

' 1 do — I do. I am grateful. Oh, the 
poor women ! The poor fatherless chil- 
dren ! Oh, father, what a terrible thing 
war is ! ' 

'It is indeed,' sighed Mr Scarse. 'I 
remember the Crimea and all the misery 
it brought. '1 hat is why 1 was so anxious 
to avert this war. But we are in the midst 
of it now and we must go through with it. 
At all events, Brenda, your husband is 
safe. There will be no more fighting 
for him.' 

' I'm sorry for that,' she said, much to 
his surprise. ' Harold will eat his heart 
out now. I would rather he were fighting.' 

' You are not easy to please, my dear,' 
said her father, drily. ' So far as his safety 
is concerned, he is in the best position. 
You need not be afraid to look at the 
papers now.' 

' I am foolish, I know, father. But I 
wish he had not been taken. I don't want 
him to be wrapped up in cotton wool while 
other men are fighting.' 

' He would agree with you there. How- 
ever, you must look upon it as the fortune 
of war. He will have to stay where he is 
till peace is proclaimed, and God knows 
when that will be in the present temper 
of this misguided nation. Come home 
now.' 

So home they went and did their best to 
take a cheerful view of things. It was a sad 
Christmas for Brenda, and for hundreds 
of other women who had suffered far more 
severely than she had done. To hear of 
' piece and goodwill ' was like mockery in 
her ears. She knew that the war was a 
just one ; that it had been forced upon 
England by the ambition of an obstinate 
old man ; and that in going through with 
this terrible business the country was 
fulfilling as ever her appointed mission of 
civilisation. But even so, it was terrible 
to open the papers and read sad tales of 



grief and disaster. Hundreds of young 
lives — the flower of British manhood — 
were being sacrificed to the horrible 
Moloch of war ; and the end was not yet 
in sight. 

Towards the end of December the 
nation had been somewhat cheered by 
the news of General French's victory at 
Colesberg, but the year ended in gloom 
and sorrow and the wailing of Rachel for 
her children. And on the Continent the 
enemies of freedom and honest govern- 
ment rejoiced at the blows an enlightened 
Government was receiving. Truly, in 
those dark hours, l'ritannia was the Niobe 
of nations. But she set her teeth and 
fought on. 

No letter had come from Wilfred about 
his brother's disappearance; neither did 
he mention it in the columns of the paper 
of which he was correspondent. The 
first news which Mrs Burton received, 
other than from the War Office, was a 
letter which arrived one morning with the 
Transvaal postmark. In fear and trem- 
bling she opened it, thinking it contained 
an announcement from some kind soul 
in Pretoria that Harold was dead. To 
her astonishment and horror it proved to 
be from Van Zwieten, and was addressed 
to her, 'care of Mrs St Leger. She 
opened it, and was found later on by the 
parlour maid in a dead faint. The first 
thing she did on regaining consciousness 
was to read it again. As she got to the 
end, she heard her father's step. In a 
tremor of excitement she ran to him. 

' Oh, father, look at this ! — it is from 
Van Zwieten — written from Pretoria.' 

Mr Scarse was astonished. The Dutch- 
man was the last person in the world 
from whom he expected to hear. But 
the cool insolence of the man seemed to 
be beyond all bounds. Putting on his 
glasses he read the letter. Brenda sat 
beside him, trying to control her excite- 
ment. And this is what he read : — 

' Dear Mrs Burton, — Your husband 
has been taken prisoner by our burghers, 
and is now in Pretoria, and more or less 
in my charge. I write to you to say that 
unless you come out to me here, at once, 
I will have your husband shot as a spy. 
There is plenty of evidence to allow of this 
being do::.'. I hope, therefore, that you 

6 



$2 



A Traitor in London 



will save his life by obeying my orders. If 
not, you may expect to hear of his death. 
You know I never speak vainly. — Yours 
with all love, 

' Waldo van Zwieten.' 

' Father ! ' cried Brenda, \vhen he had 
finished reading this cold-blooded letter, 
' what is to be done ? My poor boy ! ' 

' It is a trick to get you out there and 
into his power,' said Mr Scarse, in a tone 
of decision. ' I don't believe he can do 
it — no, not for one moment.' 

' But I am quite sure he can. You 
know how vindictive he is. Oh, how 
can we save Harold ? ' 

' By seeing the authorities. I will get 
a request sent out to Kruger ; he is a God- 
fearing man and would not permit this 
atrocity.' 

'It will do no good,' the girl said, 
shaking her head sadly. ' No, father, I 
daresay if such a request were cabled to 
the President he would do his best ; but 
Van Zwieten would try and kill Harold in 
the meantime, and if he succeeded — as 
he would succeed— he would say it was 
an accident.' 

' I believe he is capable of anything. 
But what else is to be dene ? You can- 
not obey this insolent demand ! ' 

' I must — to save Harold ! ' 

' Go out to Pretoria ? — impossible ! ' 

'I don't see that,' she said fervently, 
'lean go to Delagoa Bay by some German 
ship — the German ships go there, don't 
they? — and from there I can take the 
train to Pretoria. It is quite simple. 
Then I will see Van Zwieten and trick 
him into letting Harold be under some- 
one else's care for a time. Then I shall 
speak to the President and tell him all. 
I am sure he will help me, and I shall 
be able to take Harold away. Then Van 
Zwieten won't have a chance of shooting 
him, as he would have if a cable were 
sent. Leave the matter to me, father. I 
am a woman, and Van Zwieten is in love 
with me. I can blind him and trick him.' 

Pier father looked at her in astonish- 
ment. She had evidently made up her 
mind to go out and get the better of the 
Dutchman, as she said. 

' It is a mad scheme, Brenda ! ' 

' It is the only scheme I can think of 
by which I can save my husband.' 



' But, Brenda, listen to reason. Think 
what a scoundrel Van Zwieten is ! ' 

' All the more reason that I should save 
Harold from him.' 

'He might insist, as a condition of 
your husband's safety, that you and he 
be divorced. These things can be ar- 
ranged, you know. And then he would 
marry you himself. He is capable of 
making the most impossible demands.' 

' I daresay. I know he is capable of 
any villainy. But you leave the matter 
to me, father, and I will think of some 
scheme by which I can get the better of 
him. One thing is certain — I must go at 
once to Pretoria.' 

' But, Brenda, you cannot travel alone.' 

' Lady Jenny will come with me. If 
she will not, then I shall go alone. Do 
you think I care for appearances when 
Harold is in danger of his life ? I will 
plead with Kruger — with his wife — I am 
sure they will help me.' 

' H'm ! Remember, Kruger is not om- 
nipotent, and Van Zwieten is powerful. 
The President may not care to offend 
him. Besides, you can see for yourself, 
from this letter, that the man is still in 
love with you. Once he got you into his 
power he would stick at nothing that 
would make you a free woman.' 

' In that case I would die with Harold. 
But I don't believe the Boers are so un- 
civilised. Kruger will help me — I feel 
sure of it. You say he is a good 
man.' 

' He is,' Mr Scarse said. He was one 
of the few people who had fallen into this 
error. 'Yes, if anything can be done, 
Kruger is the man who will do it.' 

' Then, dear father, will you make in- 
quiries for me about a German ship ? I 
want to go as soon as possible.' 

' Not alone, Brenda — not alone,' said 
her father. 'I will go with you. Yes, 
child, I will myself see the President. 
He knows how I have advocated his views 
in this country, and he will not refuse me 
this. We will go together.' 

She threw her arms round his neck. 

' Darling father,' she murmured, 'how 
good you are. Yes, we will go, and save 
my darling from that wicked man. Lady 
Jenny outwitted him, so I will do the 
same. Oh, how astonished Harold will 
be to see me at Pretoria ! ' 



On the Track 



«3 



CHAPL'ER XX 

ON THE TRACK 

Brenda Burton was a singularly obstinate 
young woman. Once she had decided 
upon a scheme she never rested until she 
had carried it through. And being thus 
minded towards the affairs of everyday 
life, how much more obstinate was she 
likely to be touching a matter concerning 
the safety of her husband. Leaving Mr 
Scarse to make his arrangements — and 
he had much to do — she herself ascer- 
tained full particulars as to the route, and 
the cost of the journey. 

' We can make for the Canary Islands 
to-morrow,' she told her father. 'There 
is a Castle liner leaving in the afternoon. 
There we can pick up the German boat, 
Kaiser Fritz, which goes on to Delagoa 
Bay.' 

' Can't we go straight to the Cape in 
an English boat and get a steamer there 
to the Bay?' 

'Oh, yes, but the other way will be 
quicker, I think. The day after we arrive 
at the Canaries we can pick up the Ger- 
man boat, and we sha'n't have to tranship 
at the Cape. I don't think we can do 
better.' 

'Well, as you please;' said he. 'I 
should like to go in the Kaiser Fritz my- 
self; it would afford me an excellent 
opportunity for learning the true opinions 
of the Germans about this — to my think- 
ing — most unjust war.' 

Brenda shrugged her shoulders. 'I 
daresay they will be disagreeable,' she 
said. ' They are so jealous of us, and if 
our country went to the wall — which she 
never will do,' interpolated she, patrioti- 
cally — ' Germany would be in a very bad 
position. She would not be the over- 
whelming power she hopes to be with 
France and Russia at her heels. But 
don't let us talk politics. All I want is 
to make use of their boat to reach Dela- 
goa Bay. Give me a cheque, father, and 
1 will take the passages. To-morrow you 
must be ready to get as far as South- 
ampton.' 

So, like the quick-witted woman she 
was, she attended to all the business, and 



her father found, to his astonishment, 
that he had nothing to do but step on 
board the liner. Lady Jenny Mulct came 
to see them off. She could do nothing 
against Van Zwieten at present ; but 
there was no knowing what he might d- 
at any moment, and they must be pre- 
pared to checkmate him. So she gave 
Mrs Burton a registered address, in case 
she might have to communicate with her, 
and did her best to cheer her. 

' I feel sure you will find him all right, 
dear,' she said, as she kissed the girl. 
' He is not the man to be shot by a 
scoundrel like Van Zwieten. And you 
can coax Kruger into doing what you 
want. You are pretty enough to do what 
you like with him.' 

Brenda smiled faintly — the first smile 
for many days. ' I don't think that will 
have much influence with a man like 
Kruger,' she said. 

' Nonsense, my dear. He is a man, 
and men are always susceptible. I'm 
sure you have had enough experience ot 
that,' sighed Lady Jenny. 'All your 
troubles have arisen out of that horrid 
Van Zwieten being in love with you.' 

Brenda was not much comforted by 
this view of the situation. She hoped 
rather to move Mr Kruger by an appeal 
to his religious convictions, though these 
were of the stern cast of the Old Testa- 
ment. However, it was in a very hope- 
ful frame of mind that she went on board 
the liner, and she cabled to Wilfred at 
Spearman's Camp telling him that she 
was coming out. In the hope of making 
things as safe as possible for her husband, 
she cabled also to Van Zwieten. Surely, 
when he received that, he would do 
nothing, at all events, until he had seen 
and come to terms with her. What those 
terms would be she could not guess. But 
she imagined they would include a sug- 
gestion that she should obtain a divorce 
from Harold. He was, as she well knew, 
quite as obstinate as his respected Pre- 
sident — and with none of his morality or 
his religion. In fact, Brenda was goin:; 
to Pretoria without any sort of definite 
idea save one— that somehow or other 
she would save her husband from this 
man. That was her sole object, ard 
achieve it she would by hook or by crook ; 
and she had every confidence in her own 



8 + 



A Traitor in London 



capacity to outwit the Dutchman, wily as 
he was. And the days of calm and peace 
on board the boat afforded her ample 
time for conjecture and reflection. She 
had grown now to hate this man with a 
hatred that would only be appeased by 
his destruction. 

They made a quick run to the islands, 
and the sea air did her the world of good. 
There were many passengers on board, 
but to no one of them did she in any way 
confide. Sad at heart, she kept very 
much to herself, and either read or in- 
dulged in her own thoughts. Her father 
was, socially speaking, anything but pop- 
ular among his fellow-passengers. Air 
his Little England opinions he would, 
with the result that the majority of the 
passengers, having relatives at the front, 
gave him a wide berth. He made not a 
single convert; and all those whom he 
tried to argue round to his own way of 
thinking were glad enough when he got 
off at Madeira. 

The Kaiser Fritz came up to time and 
Brenda soon found herself on the way 
south. She did not much fancy the 
foreign boat — officers, crew and passengers 
being all pro-Boer to a man. They were 
polite enough to the English lady, but 
they took no trouble to disguise their real 
opinions. The captain expressed some 
surprise that she should be going to Dela- 
goa Bay, and seemed inclined to suspect 
some political significance in her doing so, 
though it was difficult to see what grounds 
he could have had for such an absurd 
idea. And Mrs Burton did not enlighten 
him, but left the matter to her father. 
Mr Scarse intimated that his daughter was 
going to Pretoria to nurse her wounded 
husband, an explanation which seemed to 
appeal to the sentimental Germans. After 
that they were increasingly polite to her. 
But she preferred her own cabin. Her 
father was more companionable ; but even 
he found but scant pleasure in their out- 
spoken opinions on the subject of England, 
and her inevitable downfall, as they put 
it. Even he, with his Little England pro- 
clivities, felt his patriotism awake in the 
most alarming manner at the way these 
foreigners jeered and scoffed. Smarting 
under the insults, he developed quite a 
Jingo feeling, much to his daughter's 
amusement; and he ended by withdrawing 



himself as much as possible from the 
society of all on board. Father and 
daughter were a good deal together, and 
both looked forward eagerly to the end 
of a disagreeable voyage. 

One night, when they were south of 
the Line, they were on deck together, 
The heavens were bright with stars, and 
the great grey circle of the sea lay round 
them like a trackless desert. Most of those 
on board were down below, and the two 
had the deck to themselves. Brenda was 
disinclined for conversation. Her mind 
was, as usual, full of thoughts of her hus- 
band, and the only feeling she seemed 
cognisant of was one of joy in the thought 
that every day was bringing her nearer to 
him. Mr Scarse broke the silence. 

'Brenda,' he said, 'did Lady Jenny say 
an> thing about that murder?' 

' Very little. She said that Van Zwieten 
had accused her of the crime, and that she 
was innocent. Of course I told her that 
I had never dreamt of such a thing, and 
never would have credited it for one 
moment' 

' H'm ! At one time I thought myself 
that she might be guilty,' he said. ' But I 
know now that I was wrong. That piece of 
crape certainly was suspicious. But poor 
Scarse told me that in his struggle with 
Malet the scarf had been. torn. I never 
noticed it myself when I burntit. I suppose 
that Malet kept it in his hand without 
being aware of it.' 

' Very likely. At all events, I am sure 
Lady Jenny is innocent — as innocent as 
my uncle. He is happy, I hope ? ' 

' In the asylum ? Yes, poor fellow, he 
is as happy as he can be anywhere. He 
has every comfort, and kind treatment. 
But I fear he will not live long. Van 
Zwieten gave him a fright by threatening 
to denounce him for the murder unless 
he told his sad story. Some of it he did 
tell, but not all. I was foolish enough to 
relate the rest of it to Van Zwieten. But 
I had no alternative at the time. He was 
quite capable of makingascandal. Brenda, 
who did kill Malet ? Every day the thing 
seems to become more obscure.' 

'Well, father, I can't help thinking il 
was Van Zwieten. Lady Jenny thinks 
so too.' 

' You don't say so ? But the revolve] 
— it was Harold's.' 



On the Track 



85 



' Harold left them — that is, he left a 
case of two revolvers behind him, and 
both were in the library — in Mr Malet's 
lil irary, on that night. Van Zwieten came 
to see him, and took one of them with him 
— at least, that is what Lady Jenny thinks.' 

' Brenda, that sounds improbable. Why 
should he kill Malet? He hardly knew 
him, child.' 

' Indeed, you are wrong there, father,' 
she said, ' he knew him only too well. 
Listen ! ' and she related the story the 
widow had told her concerning her hus- 
band's treachery towards his own country. 
Mr Scarse was deeply indignant and in- 
dulged in language unusually strong for 
him. Little Englander though he was, 
and misguided on many points though he 
might be, he was an honest and an 
honourable man ; and he could not under- 
stand how a man in Mr Malet's position 
could have so deliberately played the part 
of traitor. When he was in possession of 
all the facts, he quite agreed with Brenda 
that Van Zwieten was the culprit. 

' Then we'll bring him to book,' he said 
angrily. ' I will force him to confess.' 

' That will do no good, father. The 
truth cannot come to light without the 
story of Mr Malet's treachery being known ; 
and Lady Jenny is more than anxious to 
avoid that. No, Van Zwieten must be left 
to the punishment of his own conscience.' 

'I don't think that will trouble him 
much,' Mr Scarse said grimly. ' How I 
have been deceived in that man ! I am 
sure, when I tell Kruger his true character, 
he will have nothing to do with him.' 

Brenda did not contradict this state- 
ment, although she felt pretty certain that 
the foxy old President was very little 
better himself. How her father could 
reconcile the opinion he held that Kruger 
was an honest, harmless old man with 
the fact that he had forced this terrible 
war upon England was more than she 
could understand. She wondered if, when 
her father got to Pretoria, his discovery 
of the true aims of the Transvaal Govern- 
ment would be at all modified. But of 
this she had her doubts. He was the 
most obstinate of men, and an angel from 
heaven could not have altered his opinion 
once it had been formed. Knowing this, 
she never argued with him. It w.is ab- 
solutely futile, and only caused trouble. 



At the Cape the vessel stopped for a time. 
Brenda did not go ashore. She felt t> o sad 
andheavyat heart to take any interestinthe 
sight of new scenes and new people. She 
sat on the deck and looked at the smiling 
land, at the glitter of the water as it 
danced in the hot tropical sun. The azure 
of sky and sea, the transports, merchant 
ships, and men-uf-war, the whiteness of the 
city set in groves of green, the whole lying 
under the shadow of Table Mountain, all 
went to form a picture unsurpassable in its 
peculiar beauty. It was her first sight of 
Africa. But it might be Harold's grave, 
and she hated it for its very beauty. She 
would have had all Nature mourn for her 
dear one. 

Mr Scarse went on shore and returned 
with the latest war news. The tactics 
seemed to be mostly of a defensive order. 
General French had driven back a Boer 
force which had attacked Colesberg ; and 
the gallant Ladysmith garrison had re- 
pelled a terrible assault. The Capetown 
people were in high glee over this last 
success, anticipating, as they did, that the 
Boers would now be disheartened. And 
no doubt it might have had this effect for 
a time ; but the Teutonic race is not so 
easily beaten or discouraged. Mr Scarse 
remarked on this when they left for Dela- 
goa Bay. 

'The difficulty of this war,' he said, 'is, 
that for the first time Teuton is fighting 
against Teuton. The very dogged courage 
which has enabled us to win so many battles 
against the Latin nations is being used 
against us by the Boers. We do not know 
when we are beaten either. But this will 
not be the easy task we thought, and the 
struggle will go on till one or other of the 
combatants is utterly crushed.' 

'Oh, England will win ! ' Brenda said 
confidently. 

' I believe she will. I can't imagine 
England being beaten. But, as I said 
before, it will be no easy task. By this time 
they have found that out. My wonder is 
that they could not see that England had 
met a foe with courage and determination 
equal to her own. If she conquers, it will 
be one of her greatest achievements.' 

'She will conquer,' his daughter re- 
peated, and she refused to discuss the 
subject further. That Britain could fail 
never entered her head. 



86 



A Traitor in London 



The Kaiser Fritz did not stop at Dur- 
ban, somewhat to the astonishment of 
Mr Scarse, as he had understood that it 
was customary, and on applying to the 
captain he received a gruff and dis- 
courteous reply. The man seemed 
anxious, and was always sweeping the 
sea with his glass. There was one other 
Englishman on board, and Mr Scarse 
asked him if he could make out what all 
this anxiety and incivility meant. 

'Perhaps she's got contraband goods on 
board. Ammunition and guns,' was the 
reply. 'These boats usually call at 
Durban ! My own opinion is that the 
captain does not want to have his ship 
searched.' 

'But, my dear sir, Germany is 
neutral.' 

' I daresay,' the young fellow said with 
a grin. ' Germany is anything that suits 
her book. If she can smuggle in am- 
munition to assist the Boers you may be 
sure she will do it. My good sir, what with 
mercenaries in the Boer army, bread-stuffs, 
ammunition, guns and rifles being im- 
ported, we are fighting, not only the Trans- 
vaal, but the entire Continent of Europe. 
The Powers would give their ears to see 
us smashed ! ' 

This was a somewhat new view to take 
of the matter, and one which did not com- 
mend itself to Mr Scarse. He had looked 
upon the Boers as a handful of honest, 
God-fearing farmers — his favourite ex- 
pression when speaking of them — strug- 
gling for their freedom against the over- 
whelming power of Great Britain. That 
they had colossal armaments, hundreds of 
mercenaries, and clever agents scheming 
for them all over the world, had never 
entered his head. In further conversations 
with this young Englishman he received 
considerable enlightenment, and he began 
to modify his views somewhat as to the 
absolute guilelessness of Oom Paul and 
his gang. But he kept his opinions to 
himself. 

The Kaiser Fritz did not slip past Durban 
as her captain had expected. When at 
dawn she was almost abreast of that port 
she was brought to by an English cruiser. 
There was a polite signal to ' Heave to ! ' 
and the German captain, with much bad 
language, felt himself forced to comply with 
the request. The news travelled quickly 



through the ship, and everyone came on 
deck, amongst the foreigners being Brenda 
and her father and the young Englishman. 
The Germans were savage, and talked a 
great deal about the insult to the flag of 
the Fatherland. Abuse of England was 
rife, and as she listened Brenda felt her 
blood boil. 

Under the saffron sky of the dawn lay the 
menacing form of the cruiser, displaying 
the gl 'rious flag of England. Across the 
deep blue of the sea came a large boat 
manned by blue-jackets, and no sooner 
were they alongside than a smart officer 
jumped on deck with a request to see the 
papers of the Kaiser Fritz. The captain 
blustered and swore in high andlow Dutch; 
but the officer, though scrupulously polite, 
was quite firm. At last the papers were 
produced and examined, but no contra- 
band goods appearing on the manifest, the 
vessel was allowed to proceed on her way, 
to the unbounded delight of the captain, 
whilst the English officer swore under his 
breath. The latter felt confident that there 
were guns and ammunition on board, and 
that the manifest was false. However, he 
had to appear satisfied, and prepared to re- 
turn to his ship. But before leaving, he 
asked if Mr Scarse and Mrs Burton were 
on board. 

' I am Mr Scarse,' said that gentleman, 
a good deal surprised to hear his name 
suddenly spoken by this stranger, 'and this 
is Mrs Burton. But how did you know 
we were here ? ' 

*I will explain that when you are on 
board our boat, sir.' 

1 But we are going on to Delagoa Bay,' 
said Brenda. 

'In search of Captain Burton?' returned 
the lieutenant. ' In that case there is 
no need for you to go further. Captain 
Burton has escaped, and is now at 
Durban.' 

Poor Brenda nearly fainted at this joyful 
and unexpected news ; but the eyes of the 
ship — envious foreign eyes — were upon 
her, and she struggled bravely to keep 
herself in hand. The officer repeated his 
information, and asked them to get their 
things together with all speed as the Germ an 
was anxious to proceed. Hardly believing 
the joyful news that Harold was out of the 
power of Van Zwieten, father and daughter 
went below^ hastily got together their be- 



In South Africa 



8 7 



longings, and were soon on their way to the 
•cruiser. The Germans gave vent to an 
ironical ' I loch ! ' 

' Brutes ! ' muttered the lieutenant. 
'Gi\e way, men! Are you comfortable, 
Mrs Burton ? ' 

'Quite — thank you,' she said ; 'but how 
did you know I was on board that Kaiser 
Fritz ? How did Captain Burton escape ? 
How did—' 

' You will get answers to all these ques- 
tions on board ihejuno, Mrs Burton. But 
I may tell you that we expected to find ycu 
and Mr Scarse on board the Kaiser Fritz. 
Of coursewecame in search of contraband; 
but we were able to kill two birds with one 
stone by picking you up as well. I am very 
glad of it too ! ' and the young man, who 
had the true sailor's eye for beauty, looked 
as though he meant what he said. 

The boat slipped under the grey bulk 
of the cruiser, and they were assisted up 
the side — a matter of some difficulty in 
mid-ocean — and were received by the 
captain. Then he anxiously asked for his 
officer's report concerning the suspected 
contraband. It was evidently a disappoint- 
ment to him, and full steam ahead for 
Durban was then ordered. The boat was 
swung on the davits, the screw revolved, 
and in a few moments the Juno was get- 
ting along at a great rate. Then the 
captain took Brenda by the arm and led 
her down to a cabin. 

'You know that your husband has 
escaped, Mrs Burton ? ' he asked, smiling. 

'Yes, but Low did he get away? I 
feel so bewildered at all—' 

' Will you walk in there, please ? ' was 
the reply. ' Someone is waiting to ex- 
plain.' 

Brenda began to tremble. Something 
told her what she might expect. As she 
entered, she saw a man in khaki, tall and 
slim, waiting for her with out-stretched 
arms. She uttered a cry of joy. ' Oh 
Harold i Harold ! my darling boy ! At 
last ! at last ! ' 

And she fell into her husband's arms. 



CHAPTER XXI 



IN SOUTH AFRICA 



It was indeed Harold — thinner, perhaps, 
than when he had left England, but 
bronzed and hardened, and fit in every 
way for the arduous work of the cam- 
paign. Brenda clung to him as though 
she would never let him go. She looked 
upon him as one who had been snatched 
from the jaws of death ; and assuredly he 
would have found a grave in Pretoria had 
he been left to the tender mercies of Van 
Zwieten. He, on his side, was delighted 
and moved beyond words at her tender- 
ness, and at her pluck in undertaking a 
toilsome and dangerous journey to be near 
him. It was some time before husband 
and wife recovered themselves sufficiently 
to exchange confidences. Brenda cried 
in spite of her brave spirit, for the joy of 
this unexpected meeting had shaken her 
nerves. When she had regained her com- 
posure, and was able to speak, it was to 
congratulate her husband on his escape 
fr_>m Pretoria, and from the dangerous 
custody of Van Zwieten. He laughed 
outright. 

' That is just where you make the mis- 
take, my love ! ' he said. ' I never was in 
or near Pretoria, and I have seen nothing 
of Van Zwieten since I left England. 
What on earth makes you think so ? ' 

She sat down and looked at him in 
astonishment. ' I don't understand you,' 
she said. ' You were reported missing. 
I went to the War Office myself and made 
certain that the report was correct.' 

' That is true enough. I was out on 
patrol duty with a small force while the 
General was trying to force the passage 
of the Tugela. A party of Boers took us 
by surprise and captured us ; but after a 
week in their custody I was lucky enough 
to escape. I'll tell you all about it later. 
What I want to know now is how you 
come to be out in these parts.' 

' Don't you know ? Van Zwieten wrote 
to me saying that you were at Pretoria 
and under his charge, and that he would 
have you shot if I did not come out to 
see him. Father and I set off at once, 
and we were on our way to Pretoria to 



88 



A Traitor in London 



see the President and implore him to save 
you from that man.' 

' Brenda, are you sure of what you are 
saying ? It is all new to me.' 

'Here is his letter. I always carry it 
with me. I was going to show it to 
Kruger when I saw him.' 

Harold took the letter, which his wife 
produced from her pocket-book, and read 
it with a frown. ' Well, he is a scoundrel ! ' 
he remarked as he gave it back to her. 
' Of course, it is a trap, and a very clever 
one. I suppose he heard that I was miss- 
ing, through the Boer spies, and he turned 
the information to his own advantage. 
Don't you see, Brenda, he wanted you to 
come out to the Transvaal so that you 
might be in his power.' 

' The beast ! ' cried she, crimson at 
having been so tricked. ' I assure you, 
Harold, I believed the letter was written 
in all good faith. The War Office said 
you were missing, and I thought you would 
be transferred with the other prisoners to 
Pretoria. That Van Zwieten should be 
there, and that you should be in his 
power, did not surprise me in the least. 
I never dreamt for a moment that it 
was a trick. Oh, how lucky it was that 
you were able to stop me ! How did 
you know I was on board the Kaiser 
Fritz}' 

' Easily enough. You cabled to Wil- 
fred telling him so. He was at Spearman's 
Camp at the time, and so was I. When 
he showed it to me I could not understand 
at first how it was that you were going to 
Pretoria ; but it struck me that, as I was 
reported missing, you might think that I 
had been transferred to the Transvaal 
capital. I made up my mind that I would 
stop you at Capetown. My first idea 
was to wire to meet you there ; but the 
General wanted someone to send down 
to Durban about some business, and I 
contrived to have myself selected for the 
task. There I heard that the Kaiser 
Fritz was suspected of having contraband 
on board, and that she would be stopped 
by the Juno. I knew the captain, and I 
told him all about you and your journey 
out here. He was good enough to have 
me on board ; and so it all came about. 
Oh, my dear wife ! ' he cried, clasping her 
in his arms, ' how thankful I am that you 
are safe. If I had heard tbat you were at 



Pretoria, and in the power of that villain, 
it would have driven me silly.' 

' He is a bitter enemy,' she said. ' I 
should have killed him if he had done 
you any harm.' 

' I was never in any danger of my life, 
dearest — at least, not from him.' 

' No ; I see it now.' She paused, and 
then went on. 'After all, I can find it in 
my heart to forgive him, even for this 
trick, since it has brought me to you. I 
won't go home again until you do.' 

' But, my darling, I must go to the 
front. I leave Durban to-morrow. You 
can't come with me.' 

' Yes, I can — and I will,' she insisted. 
' Oh, I know what you would say, that it 
is not a woman's place; but it is a woman's 
place, and her duty, to nurse the wounded, 
and that is what I shall do. I know a 
good deal about nursing, and I'm sure 
the doctors will let me help ; they can't 
refuse.' 

' But think of the terrible hardships ! ' 

' It is far more hardship for me to have 
to sit at home when you are in danger. 
At least, I shall be near you; and per- 
haps, if Van Zwieten does any more of 
his plotting, I may be able to frustrate 
him. It is no use your looking at me 
like that, Harold ; I won't leave you again. 
You are all I have in the world. Ii you 
were to die, I should die also.' 

' There is your father.' 

'Yes, father is very dear to me, now 
that we understand one another, but he 
is not you. Oh, my love, my love, don't 
send me away again ! It will break my 
heart to leave you ! ' She paused, then 
added, defiantly, ' I won't go — there ! ' 

He laughed, and he tried to persuade 
her to stay at Durban or Pietermaritzburg, 
where she would be in comfort and safety ; 
but he might have saved his breath. To 
the front she would go, and nothing would 
move her. In the end — as might have 
been expected — she got her own way, and 
her husband promised that she should go 
with him up the Tugela, if he could pro- 
cure passports for her and her father. He 
admired her spirit more than a little, and 
he was only too glad to have her with 
him; but it was against his better judgment 
that he consented. However, there was 
this to be said — she would be in no greater 
danger from the intrigues of Van Zwieten 



In South Africa 



8 9 



at the front than she would be at Durban. 
After all, it might be as well, with such 
an enemy, that she should be beside her 
husband. 

'Then that's all right,' she said, taking 
this hardly-earned consent quite as a 
matter of course. 'And now tell me 
how you managed to escape from the 
Boers ? ' 

'Well, it came about in this way. As 
you may guess, when we found ourselves 
surrounded we made a hard fight for it. 
We killed a few of the enemy. A boy of 
seventeen rushed at me; he fired, but 
missed, and I had him at my mercy. I 
raised my revolver, but I could not bring 
myself to shoot so young a lad. When 
he was about to fire again — for I was 
turning away — I managed to knock him 
down. Then we were overpowered and 
had to lay down our arms. The lad I 
had spared proved to be the son of the 
Boer leader, a fine old fellow called Piet 
Bok. He was so pleased with me that 
he offered to let me go free ; but I could 
not leave my men. Then, when we were 
about to be sent on to Pretoria, he renewed 
his offer. I had by this time been separated 
from my men, so I accepted. He had 
kept me all the time under his own charge, 
and had treated me very well. So one 
night he led me out of their camp, gave 
me a horse and gun, and sent me on my 
way.' 

' God bless him ! ' cried Brenda, fer- 
vently. 

' I was in the Tugela district,' he con- 
tinued, ' somewhere in the neighbourhood 
of a place called Spion Kop, which has 
been very strongly fortified by the Boers. 
The country was swarming with the 
enemy, and it was difficult enough to find 
my way back to camp ; then my map — 
thanks to our Intelligence Department — 
was all wrong. By day I hid in gullies 
and behind kopjes, and kept my eyes 
open. I managed to fetch the river, but 
I could not get over at first. Then one 
night I determined to make the best of a 
bad job, so I made my horse swim for it. 
The current was strong, and it was pretty 
hard work to keep on at all ; but at last 
I was forced to let go, and I was swept 
by the current on to the further side. I 
kept myself hidden all through that day, 
and got on when night came. I reached 



our camp about dawn, and was very r.< -a: !y 
shot by a sentry. However, I made my- 
self known, and got in safely. I was dead 
beat too.' 

' My poor Harold, how you have 
suffered ! ' 

' Nonsense. Don't make a fuss over a 
little thing like that. You must be a true 
soldier's wife and laugh at these things. 
But now that I have told you everything, 
and we have settled what is to be done, 
I must see your father.' 

They found Mr Scarse on deck with 
the captain. He received Harold with 
unaffected pleasure. 

' I am thankful to see you alive,' he 
said. ' The captain has been telling me 
all about your miraculous escape.' 

' I am glad to be able to strike another 
blow for Old England, sir; but I have 
to thank you for your kindness in coming 
out. You were going into the very jaws 
of the lion to find me ! ' 

'To Pretoria — yes,' he said simply. 
' But I am glad there is no need to do 
that. And yet I should have enjoyed 
meeting Kruger.' 

'You shall see him when we take the 
capital,' Harold said. ' Brenda has made 
up her mind to stay until the end of the 
war.' 

' Brenda ? — what nonsense ! ' 

' Oh, I must, father — if only to protect 
Harold from Van Zwieten.' 

' Ah ! Van Zwieten ! What about that 
letter, Harold?' 

'A trap, Mr Scarse; a trap to catch 
Brenda ! ' 

' Why, the man's a villain ! ' 

' He is all that. I hope to get a shot 
at him some day; I have a long score to 
settle with the brute ! ' 

' I agree with you. I hope you will,' 
Mr Scarse said emphatically. Tunish 
the scoundrel ! Do you know that it was 
he who murdered Malet ? ' 

'No, really? — I suspected as much; 
but he accused me, you know, at Chip- 
pingholt. That was why I went away so 
suddenly. I could not face Brenda with 
that hanging over me.' 

'You should have trusted me, Harold,' 
she snid somewhat reproachfully ; ' I never 
would have belie' 'ed you guilty.' 

'I was wrong, I know dear, but for the 
moment I lost my head. You see he hid 



9° 



A Traitor in London 



got my revolver, and with that apparently 
the murder was committed.' 

' It was, and by Van Zwieten himself. 
You left the revolver at the Manor.' 

' I did, the last time I stayed there. I 
left two in a case.' 

' The case was in the library, and he 
must have taken one of them out.' 

' Why — in Heaven's name ? ' 

'Ah, that is a long and painful story,' 
Mr Scarse said, significantly. ' You tell 
it, Brenda.' 

And so Brenda related the story of 
Malet's treachery, and the reasons which 
had led Lady Jenny to conceal the dead 
man's shame. 

Harold could hardly contain his in- 
dignation when he heard that an English- 
man had acted so base a part. To be 
bought and sold by a scoundrelly Dutch- 
man; to be the creature of a foreign 
power ; and all the while to be acting the 
role of Judas towards the land which had 
borne him — these things were almost be- 
yond the soldier's comprehension. 

' I'd have shot him with my own hand,' 
he cried, striding to and fro, 'the low 
blackguard ! The most honest action 
Van Zwieten ever did in his life was to 
kill the wretch.' 

' Don't talk so loud, Harold ! ' said his 
wife ; ' we must keep this to ourselves for 
Lady Jenny's sake.' 

' Yes, you are right, Brenda ; and I 
will make quite sure of the silence of 
Van Zwieten by shooting him at sight. 
I am certain to come across him, and 
when I do I'll finish him; not because 
he murdered Malet, but because he 
tempted him to be a traitor ! ' 

When at last his indignation had cooled 
down somewhat, Harold introduced his 
wife to the captain and the other officers. 
Without revealing too much, he related 
how, hearing he had been taken prisoner, 
and that he was at Pretoria, she had 
started out in search of him, when she 
had been intercepted by the. Juno. And 
she received so many compliments on 
her pluck that she blushed as she had 
never before blushed in her life. Her 
beauty was greatly admired by the sus- 
ceptible tars ; and Harold was considered 
a lucky fellow to have so charming and 
clever and brave a wife. Mr Scarse, after 
all he had recently heard of the Boers, 



was not inclined to champion them quite 
so openly, and therefore he got on well 
enough. On the whole, the short voyage 
was most enjoyable, and recompensed 
Brenda for all that she had suffered on 
board the Kaiser Fritz. Indeed, it was 
with great regret that she left the Juno at 
Durban. And she vowed ever aftei that 
sailors were the finest and most delight- 
ful of men. Harold reminded her laugh- 
ingly that she belonged to the junior 
branch of the Service. When they were 
leaving, the captain gave Captain Burton 
a parting word of warning. 

' See here ! ' he said, with a broad 
smile, 'don't you lose any more of our 
guns, or I'm blest if we won't take up the 
war ourselves ; ' whereat Harold laughed, 
though in truth the shaft went home. 

He parted excellent friends with his 
hosts, and as for Brenda, the officers gave 
her three hearty cheers as she stepped off 
the Juno at Durban; and the bluejackets 
grinned and thoroughly endorsed their 
officers' good taste. 

They found out the best hotel in the 
place, and took up their quarters there 
for the short time they had to spend in 
Durban before leaving for the front. 
Harold went off to see if he could get a 
permit for his wife and her father to 
accompany him. Meanwhile, they wan- 
dered about the town together. This was 
Brenda's first experience of Africa, and 
she enjoyed it. It was as though she 
had dropped on to a new planet. The 
wide streets, with the verandahs before 
the shop?, the troops, the throng of 
Kaffirs, and the brilliant colour of the 
whole scene amused and delighted her 
beyond Words. The air was full of ru- 
mours of what was doing at the front. 
False reports and true came in frequently,, 
so there was no lack of excitement. Even 
Mr Scarse caught the fever and was not 
half so eager in his denunciation of the 
Government as he had been. Moreover, 
he was beginning to find out that the 
Boers were not the simple, harmless 
creatures Dr Leyds in Europe was re- 
presenting them to be. In the smoking- 
room of the hotel he heard stories about 
them which made what remaining hairs 
he had stand upright with horror. On 
mature consideration it seemed to him 
that if the Government handed back 



At the Front 



9 1 



South Africa to the Boers, as the Little 
England party wished, the clock of time 
would be put back a hundred years, and 
the black races would be exterminated. 
In his dismay at this idea, Mr Scarse 
could not help revealing something of 
what he was feeling to his daughter. She 
was delighted at his return to what she 
called a sane state of mind, and she 
openly expressed her pleasure. 

' I wish you could bring out a dozen 
men or so, father — men of your party, I 
mean. It might teach them that Eng- 
land is not so invariably in the wrong as 
they seem to think.' 

'My dear,' he confessed, with some 
show of penitence, ' I fear our race is too 
insular; we have many things to learn.' 

'We have not to learn how to colonise 
or how to fight, father,' she said, with true 
imperial spirit. ' It is my belief that Provi- 
dence gave us those gifts that we might 
civilise the world. If our Empire were 
to dwindle to nought it would be a bad 
day for the world.' 

' Yes, my dear, it would. After all, we 
are the only nation that thinks twice be- 
fore we do anything.' 

In short, Mr Scarse was rapidly turning 
his back upon the old narrow views to 
which he had so long clung, and with a 
broadening mind the true meaning of the 
Imperialistic policy was becoming appar- 
ent. Discarding the' parish politics of 
Clapham, he took to looking around him 
well ; and in doing so he found much to 
occupy his thoughts. Old and crusted 
ideas cannot easily be dislodged, and — 
to use Oliver Wendell Holmes's image — 
Mr Scarse had been polarised for years. 

Harold succeeded in getting the permit 
for his wife and father-in-law to go to the 
front, and it was arranged that they should 
start the next day. In the morning Cap- 
tain Burton wentabout his military business 
— for he had to carry a report concerning 
some stores back to his General — and Mr 
Scarse being occupied in a political dis- 
cussion with a South African whom he had 
metat the hotel, Brenda thought she would 
take a strolL She bought a few things she 
wanted, explored the principal streets, and 
— as she had ample time — turned her at- 
tention to the suburbs. It was very hot, 
and she walked slowly under the blaze of 
the African sun. The red dust rose in 



clouds ; there was a drowsy hum of insects 
all around, and patient oxen toiled along 
the dusty roads. There were plenty of 
Colonials about, and a good deal of atten- 
tion was attracted to Mrs Bart <n both on 
account of her great beauty and her dress. 
Now and again a body of soldiers in khaki 
would march through the streets followed 
by a crowd of people. The Kaffirs lined 
up under the verandahs, and grinned from 
ear to ear as the 'rooibaatjes' went by, 
although they missed the redcoats which 
had procured them that name from the 
Boers. From what she could gather Brenda 
learned that these Kaffirs were all in favour 
of the English cause, for they both hated 
and dreaded the Boers. And small won- 
der, considering how they were terrorised 
by the inhuman sjambok. 

At length, getting tirtd of novelty, 
Brenda turned her steps back to the hotel. 
It was drawing near midday, and she 
wanted something to eat before they left 
As she took a turning up a side street 
which led into the principal thoroughfare, 
she saw a man standing under a verandah 
— a tall, bulky man with golden hair and 
golden beard, and he was coolly watching 
her. 

A shiver passed through her as she 
caught sight of him. For it was her enemy, 
Van Zwieten. 



CHAPTER XXII 

AT THE FRONT 

Van Zwieten's sins had evidently made 
no difference in his fortunes. He appeared 
to be flourishing like the proverbial green 
bay tree. He was dressed in a smart riding 
suit, with long brown boots, and a smasher 
hat of the approved Boer type. Quite 
unabashed at sight of Brenda, he crossed 
the road with an impudent smile and held 
out his hand. She shot one glance of in- 
dignation at him, and drew aside as though 
to avoid contact with an unclean thing— 
a proceeding which appeared to cause the 
man some shame, although he tried to 
assume an air of unconcern and amuse- 
ment. 

' You won't shake hands with me, Mrs 
Burton ? ' he said, quite jauntily. 

' How dare you speak to me ? ' she said, 



92 



A Traitor in London 



drawing back. ' I wonder you are not 
ashamed to look me in the face after that 
trick about the letter.' 

' Ah ! that was what the Boers call 
" slim " ' he said, wincing, nevertheless, at 
her open contempt for him. ' All's fair in 
love and war, you know, but your husband 
has been rather in advance of himself on 
this occasion, and the plot has failed. 
Yes, you see I admit that it is a plot, and 
I admit that it has failed.' 

' I have nothing to say to you,' said 
Brenda, coldly, ' except to tell you that if 
you attempt to molest either my husband 
or myself further I shall have you arrested 
as a spy.' 

He looked uneasily down the road and 
at the stern, set faces of the passing 
soldiers. He knew that from such men 
as they he might expect precious little 
mercy once the word spy had gone out 
against him, followed bydamningevidence 
of his complicity. Boer treachery had to 
be avenged ; there had been plenty of it 
about, and he did not fancy being a scape- 
goat for others. 

'Mr dear Mrs Burton,' he went on 
calmly, 'I wonder you spare me at all. 
Why not have me arrested now and have 
done with it ? I am completely in your 
power, am I not ? You have but to raise 
your voice and the thing would he done. 
Indeed, I am not at all sure that I should 
reach the jail alive. They hate spies here, 
and it is true they have good reason to. 
You may not have such a chance again, 
so cry out upon me now and revenge 
yourself on me once and for all for my 
crime— my crime of loving you.' 

' No, I will not,' replied Brenda, firmly ; 
'but I give you fair warning, Mr van 
Zwieten, that if you do not leave this place 
immediately I shall at once inform the 
authorities about you. In luring me to 
Pretoria you made one mistake; you 
thought I should come unprepared. I 
did no such thing. I have ample evidence . 
with me to prove that in London your 
occupation was that of a spy. Lady Jenny 
gave me the papers.' j 

' I'm very much obliged to Lady Jenny, 
I'm __ sure,' he said, with a bow. ' At 
Pretoria — for Oom Paul — you could 
hardly have brought credentials calculated 
to speak more highly in my favour. He 
would be quick to appreciate my services.' 



'Why did you wish me to come to 
Pretoria ? You know I am married.' 

' Yes, I know you are married ; but 
marriage can be severed as all else is 
severed — by death,' he said significantly. 
' If you had come to Pretoria — but there 
is no need to talk about that,' he broke 
off impatiently. 'I was duly informed 
that your husband was missing, but he 
escaped before I could reach the Tugela 
and myself take him to Pretoria, where 
he would have been completely in my 
power. I wrote the letter thinking you 
would really find him there. But he 
escaped and got your telegram — the one 
you sent to Wilfred Burton. I followed 
him down here, and learned how he in- 
tended to intercept the Kaiser Fritz. 
You see I am well informed, Mrs Burton.' 

Brenda was astonished at the extent 
of the man's knowledge and the dogged 
fierceness with which he seemed to follow 
her and Harold. She wondered if it 
would not be wise to have so dangerous 
an enemy arrested at once. But the 
thought of Lady Jenny and the shame 
which it would bring upon her through 
the deeds of her late husband — which Van 
Zwieten would assuredly reveal in such a 
contingency — prevented her from decid- 
ing upon so severe a course. Later on 
she had reason bitterly to regret that she 
had not acted upon her first impulse. 
Had she done so it would have saved 
both her husband and herself endless 
trouble. Van Zwieten half guessed what 
was in her mind, but he made no move, 
and seemed quite content to abide by her 
decision. There was even a smile on his 
face as he looked at her. Villain as he 
was, his courage was undeniable. The 
pity was that such a virtue should not 
have been linked to others. But then 
that was the man all over. He was a 
belated Conrad the Corsair. ' A man of 
one virtue and ten thousand crimes.' Yet 
another virtue might be added. He loved 
Brenda, and he loved her honestly. 

' I see you know your business as a spy, 
Mr van Zwieten,' she said coldly. ' But 
all your work is thrown away. If you 
succeeded in killing my husband, as you 
seem anxious to do, I should kill myself! ' 

Van Zwieten turned a shade paler. 
For once he was moved out of his attitude 
of sneering insolence. ' No, no,' he said 



At the Front 



93 



hoarsely, ' do not think of such a thing ! 
I won't harm your husband, on my 
honour.' 

'Your honour! The honour of a spy?' 

' The honour of a man who loves you ! ' 
he said with some dignity. 

She shrugged her shoulders. She had 
not much belief in a love which was so 
selfish in its aims and so unscrupulous in 
the carrying out of them. But she would 
not argue further with him, she thought. 
The conversation was taking a turn of a 
personal character highlyrepugnant to her, 
and she moved away. 'Well, Mr van 
Zwieten, I have warned you 1 If you 
don't leave British territory I shall inform 
the authorities of your London career. 
Good-bye ! ' 

'Good-bye,' he said. He took off his 
hat with a grand bow as she left him. 
Nor did he make any attempt to stay her ; 
he knew already that she was going to the 
front with her husband, and he had every 
intention of following. That she would 
reveal his true character he did not for 
one moment believe. There he had her 
in his power, for he would at once make 
known Gilbert Malet's conduct, and that 
would mean shame and trouble for Lady 
Jenny, from which Brenda was more than 
anxious to shield her, as he well knew. 
She had been a good friend to the girl, 
and had indirectly done a great deal to 
bring about the marriage. This Dutch- 
man had more knowledge of a woman's 
nature than most of his sex, and he found 
it of no little service in the profession 
which he had taken up. 

Brenda found her husband impatiently 
awaiting her. He had made all arrange- 
ments for the journey; and after a hasty 
meal they went down to the station. She 
was in high spirits. With Harold beside 
her, and the prospect of a novel and busy 
life in her capacity of nurse, she was 
perfectly happy. And he, still more of a 
lover than a husband, thought he had 
never seen her look more beautiful. 

Concerning the journey there is very 
little to say. There was considerable 
monotony about it. Some of the scenery 
was beautiful, particularly when they got 
amongst the mountains, but for the most 
part the plains extended on all sides, grey 
and dreary, the kopjes humping them- 
selves everywhere amongst the karoo 



bushes. The dust-storms, too, were al- 
together disagreeable, and in spite of her 
veil and cloak Brenda arrived at the camp 
in a very gritty condition, and thorough' y 
worn out. Her husband saw the doctor 
at once and told him of his wife's desire 
to nurse the wounded. Her offer was 
gratefully accepted, for Brenda had had a 
certain amount of professional experience 
which stood her in good stead now. So 
next day she took up her quarters in the 
hospital and went to work in earnest. Mr 
Scarse, having been introduced to the 
authorities, amused himself by wandering 
about the camp and enjoying the novelty 
of his surroundings. To a home-staying 
man such as he, the round of daily life at 
the front proved most amusing. 

Indeed, father and daughter were 
equally delighted with this new experience. 
Mrs Burton proved herself a most capable 
nurse, and paid every attention to those 
under her charge. Her husband chafed 
somewhat at first. He did not like the 
idea of his wife doing such work ; but 
when he saw that she really enjoyed it, 
and that she was anxious to be of use in 
her own way to those who were fighting 
for Queen and country, he made no 
further opposition. Moreover, he had his 
own duties to attend to, and upon the 
whole, husband and wife saw very little 
of each other. The few moments they 
did have were therefore all the sweeter. 
And the knowledge that Brenda was near 
him and safe from the machinations of 
Van Zwieten was a supreme satisfaction 
to Harold. He had yet to learn that the 
Dutchman was as active as ever, and bent 
upon getting her into his power. 

Since his failure to cross the Tugela, 
General Buller had been reconstructing 
his plan?, and was taking ample time oyer 
the preparations. As he himself said, 
there should be no turning back this time. 
The garrison at Ladysmith was holding 
out bravely; but the messages showed 
that they were anxiously expecting relief. 
The soldiers, held like hounds in a leash, 
were longing to get at the foe and wipe 
out their first failure. But the days passed 
and no move was made. On this side of 
the Tugela all was safe ; but on the other 
the Bo rs swarmed, although they kept at 
a safe distance from the British position. 
To Brenda, the mere fact of living in a 



94 



A Traitor in London 



camp in time of war was sufficiently ex- 
citing. 

Shortly after their arrival, Captain Bur- 
ton was ordered on patrol duty to scour 
the neighbouring country on this side of 
the Tugela. He said good-bye to his wife 
and went off in high spirits. But it Wc,s 
with a sinking heart that she watched him 
go off on this dangerous duty. The arrival 
of Wilfred, however, served to cheer her 
somewhat. 

As has been stated, young Burton was 
acting as war correspondent for one of 
the London papers, and had been gather- 
ing information about the country around. 
He had been absent, therefore, when his 
brother's party arrived ; but when he came 
back the first thing he did was to look up 
Brenda at the hospital. She was struck 
a f once by his healthy appearance. He 
seemed less nervous and hysterical than 
he had been in London, for the out-door 
life and the vigorous exercise were telling 
upon him. But his big black eyes flashed 
as feverishly as ever; nor did they lose 
their restlessness when Brenda told him 
of her meeting with Mr van Zwieten at 
Durban. To Harold she had never men- 
tioned it, knowing too well his impulsive 
nature; but with his brother she felt it 
was different. He already knew so much 
about the man that a little information 
more or less did not matter. But he was 
inclined to blame her for having shown 
the spy any mercy at all. 

' What could I do ? ' expostulated 
Brenda in dismay. 'You know that if 
I had had him arrested he would have 
revenged himself by telling all he knew 
of Mr Malet's life, and then think how 
terrible it would have been for Lady 
Jenny ! ' 

'She must take her chance,' he said 
gloomily. 'She must be prepared to 
suffer all for her country. Van Zwieten 
will pick up all sorts of knowledge at 
Durban, and he may be able then to 
hamper our plans ! ' 

' I don't think he will stay there, Wil- 
fred. I told him that if he did not leave 
I would give information to the author- 
ities. He daren't face that ! And I don't 
think he will be very long in following us 
here ! ' she added with a flush of anger. 
' He will follow us everywhere. I should 
not be surprised if he were across the 



river now in the hope of taking me 
prisoner when the camp is moved.' 

' Directly the advance begins, Brenda, 
you mu r ,t get back to Durban. It will 
never do for you to remain here. There's 
going to be some pretty hard fighting.' 

' Yes ; but not here. I shall be per- 
fectly safe behind the British lines.' 

'Perhaps; I hope so.' Wilfred looked 
gloomy and bit his nails abstractedly, a 
habit with him when he was annoyed. ' I 
tell you what it is, Brenda,' he burst out. 
' I'm very doubtful about the wisdom of 
this advance. Buller's idea is, I believe, 
to cross the Tugela and try and pierce 
the Boer centre. I'm afraid he won't 
succeed.' 

' Oh, Wilfred ! Have you no mere 
faith in the British soldiers than that?' 

' I have every faith in the rank and 
file — yes, and in many of the junior 
officers, but I confess candidly that I 
don't feel altogether the same amount of 
trust in our leaders. The m;re fact of 
this advance having been decided upon 
goes to prove to me that they don't know 
their business ! The country between 
this and Ladysmith is precipitous — I 
know nothing like it outside Switzerland 
or the Rockies — and it seems to me to be 
a mad thing to lead an army over it with 
heavy transport and all that unless that 
army is an overwhelming superiority to 
the opposing force — which we know it 
isn't. The whole place is strong'yfortified, 
and the positions that will have to be 
stormed are almost impregnable. These 
Boers know only too well what they are 
about. They have chosen their ground 
well. Mark my words, there will be great 
loss of life if not a great disaster. It is 
throwing away lives to attempt campaign- 
ing in this district.' 

' But Ladysmith must be relieved ! ' 

' I knew ; but it will never be relieved 
in this way. Even the valour of the 
British soldier is powerless against the 
hail of bullets which will rain down on 
him from these natural fortresses, and ten 
to one he won't see a single Boer to shoot 
at in return. They are devilish clever at 
keeping out of sight ; of course, I am only 
a civilian and don't intend to set my 
opinion against that of the professional 
soldier; but th re x is such a thing as 
common-sense, and we have not had 



At the Front 



95 



enough of it about in the conduct of this 
campaign.' 

Brenda was impressed in spite of her- 
self. 'What do you think ought to be 
done, Wilfred ? ' 

' Fall back on Durban and reconstruct 
the plan of campaign. Buller's original 
idea of invading the Free State was by 
far the best. If we took the capital we 
should cut the rabbits off from their 
burrows, and ten to one the Free Staters 
would be disheartened. Then again, in 
that country we should have had more 
open fighting, and manoeuvring would 
have been child's play to what it is here. 
It is sheer madness hurling line after line 
against these impregnable fortresses. 
Even if they are taken it can only be at 
terrible loss. Believe me, Buller's original 
plan was the best — the only one. But I 
hear he was overruled. But you can take 
my word for it — if Buller makes this move 
there will be a terrible disaster.' 

Brenda seemed disturbed at this view 
of things. She could not believe that a 
soldier of General Buller's experience 
could be capable of so grave an error of 
judgment. And yet, as Wilfred put it, 
t'tis advance did seem to be of an unduly 
hazardous nature. But there again, Wil- 
fred was always so pessimistic. He was 
not the man to look at anything hopefully 
when he could do the opposite. The men 
themselves were all full of confidence, 
she knew, and were looking forward to 
relieving their gallant comrades in Lady- 
smith within a very short time now. Wil- 
fred must be wrong^he argued ; it was 
more than likely that the General had 
some information up his sleeve that no 
one knew anything about. At all events, 
s'.e was not going to look on the black 
side of things. Thus she comforted her- 
self somewhat. 

Harold returned from his patrolling, 
b^t only for a short while. Again and 
again he was sent out, sometimes into 
the enemy's country, and he was in the 
saddle from morning till night. Brenda 
sasv but little of him, and had to put up 
with his continued absence as best she 
could. She had, as it happened, plenty 
of work to distract her. She was an ex- 
cellent nurse, and did good service in the 
hospital, not sparing herself in any way. 
Indeed, so constantly was she employed, 



that the doctor insisted upon her taking a 
sufficient amount of exercise, and strongly 
advised her to ride. This commended 
itself to her, for she rode well and was 
never happier than when in the saddle. 
She managed to obtain a habit from a 
colonial lady who was also in the camp. 
Her husband minted to procure for her 
a capital little animal — one of those active 
little ponies used by the Boers. And so 
she came to make frequent excursions in- 
to the surrounding country. 

'You must keep on this side of the 
river, Mrs Burton,' said the doctor. 'As 
long as you do that you are quite safe, 
even beyond the camp lines. But don't 
cross the Tugela. Directly you do that 
you run risks. I can't afford to lose my 
best nurse, you know.' 

Brenda looked at the sullen waters of 
the stream rolling through the melancholy 
veldt, and laughed. • I should be a clever 
woman to cross that river, doc'or, even if 
I wanted to. You may depend upon my 
taking every care of myself. I shall keep 
on the right side*.from sheer inability to 
get on the wrong one.' 

But it was not often that Brenda was 
allowed to ride alone. She was not the 
sort of woman to have to seek a cavalier. 
But as the time drew near when the 
General intended to make his move, his 
juniors found they had very little leisure, 
and she had perforce to ride alone. But 
even so she had no fear, though her father 
worried a good deal about her. But as 
she always returned safely, even he grew 
gradually accustomed to see her go off 
unattended. 

Every now and again there came upon 
her a feeling that she was being watched. 
She would look round and see a Kaffir 
staring fixedly at her. This happened on 
several days in succession. Yet she could 
not be sure that it was always the same 
man. The natives were all so very much 
alike to her that it was impossible to dis- 
tinguish one from another. However, 
this espionage was in nowise aggressive; 
on the contrary, if espionage it were, it 
was done very skilfully. It might be even 
pure fancy on her part, for ever since that 
meeting with Van Zwieten in Durban her 
nerve was anything but steady. At all 
events, she decided not to say anything 
to her husband about it lest he should 



9 6 



A Traitor in London 



forbid her excursions altogether, and now 
that she had taken to riding again she 
was very loth to give it up. 

She wondered if it might be possible 
that Van Zwieten was about. It was 
possible — just possible, but she thought 
not probable. He would know that Wil- 
fred was in the camp, and that he would 
have no hesitation in denouncing him as 
a spy ; and for that reason she did not 
think he would be so foolish as to trust 
himself within the British lines. At least 
so long as she kept on this side the 
Tugela he could not molest her. He 
was no fool to risk his life in a mad 
attempt which would mean certain failure. 
So she comforted herself. But the feel- 
ing of being watched still remained with 
her. 

At last the order to advance was given, 
and the men, tired of inaction, joyfully 
obeyed. Harold had been absent two 
days on scout duty ; this time across the 
river, which Warren's brigade were pre- 
paring to negotiate. He had been sent 
out with a small force to make a recon- 
naissance in the enemy's country. She 
was beginning to feel rather anxious for 
his return. Despondent and full of vague 
foreboding as she was, she fancied that 
a ride would do her good, and she set 
out as usual, somewhere about sundown. 
She intended to go only a short way and 
return before it grew dark. The Kaffir 
who saddled her horse watched her ride 
out of the camp and grinned evilly. 

Behind the rugged mountains the sky 
was a fiery red, and was barred with black 
clouds. The air was hot and sultry, and 
there was promise of a storm in those 
heavy masses lying in the east. Under 
the crimson glare the veldt looked grim 
and ominous. The kopjes stood up like 
huge gravestones; and where the grass 
failed, the sandy karoo, even more barren, 
took its p-ace. Here and there were farm- 
houses with red walls and corrugated 
outbuildings, and the dull red light bathed 
the lonesome scene as if in blood. The 
oppressive feeling in the air recalled to 
Brenda's mind that memorable night at 
Chippingholt when Malet had been done 
to death. Just such another storm was 
impending. She began to feel nervous 
as the recollection came upon her and 
she decided to return. 



For some time her pony had been 
restive, tossing his head and champing 
his bit. He was usually so quiet that 
she could not understand it ; but just then, 
as she had made up her mind to return, 
he grew even more distressed and finally 
he bolted. She let him have his head 
and in nowise lost hers. She would be 
able to pull him up after a few miles. On 
he galloped, the bit between his teeth, 
raising the loose red sand, and taking 
her further and further away from the 
camp ; past kopjes, past Kaffir huts, 
stone walls, sheep kraals, he tore. She 
made several attempts to check him, but 
in vain. Suddenly he put his foot into 
a hole, stumbled, and sent her flying over 
his head. She lay on the ground half 
stunned. The pony, relieved of his bur- 
den, scampered off. She was able to 
realise that she was there alone — on the 
karoo, far from the camp, and with the 
night just upon her. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

A DUTCH LOCHINVAR 

Dusty and draggled from her fall, and with 
a swimming head, Brenda sat on an ant- 
hill, wondering howshe could extricate her- 
self from so unpleasant a position. The 
pony was far away, lost in the shadows of 
the karoo, and she was miles and miles 
from camp. It might be that the animal 
would find its own way home, and that they 
would send out in search of her, but busy 
as they were with the hurry and bustle of 
the advance, it was very possible that her 
absence would not be noticed. Had her 
husband been there — but she knew that 
he was far away in the enemy's country 
taking stock of the Boer movements and 
waiting for the division to come up. Wil- 
fred was but a scatterbrain. She could not 
trust him. On the whole, she thought it 
was most unlikely that anyone would 
trouble about her, or, in the confusion, 
even miss her. She was lost in the veldt. 
Fortunately she had plenty of courage ; 
and when her brain had steadied from the 
shock she began to look about her. One 
thing was certain, she would not, and could 
not, remain in the veldt all night. If it was 
fine perhaps there would be no great hard- 



A Dutch Lochinvar 



97 



ship in that, in spite of the cold, but a heavy 
storm was coming on, and she would be 
drenched to the skin. The red sun sank 
down behind thehills;darkcloudslaboured 
up from the east; and the wide plain around 
her was swallowed up in the gloom. The 
place and the time were eerie ; and the girl 
felt a superstitious thrill as she. rose pain- 
fully to her feet, trying hard to collect her 
thoughts. At first it was the cause of the 
disaster which puzzled her. 

Why had the pony run away ? She had 
ridden him frequently, and there was not 
an ounce of vice in the little beast. That 
he should suddenly bolt without rhyme or 
reason was quite incomprehensible. Per- 
haps, had she looked back and seen the 
evil grin on the face of the Kaffir who had 
saddled him, she would not have been at 
such a loss to explain the little pony's 
freak. 

But something she must do. She would 
walk on till she came to a Boer farmhouse, 
and get them to take her in for the night. 
Then she would get a horse and return to 
the camp in the morning. Perhaps she 
mighteven chance on some English people, 
seeing that she was in an English colony 
and one loyal to the Queen. That there 
wererebels there itwas true, but not oh that 
side of the river. Having a wholesome 
dread of their foes at close quarters, they 
would not dare to cross. So far, then, she 
felt safe ; what she needed was food and 
shelter. Kilting up her riding-skirt she 
went forth in the fast-gathering darkness in 
search of them. 

Itwasweary workplodding over the looj'e 
sand, and after the first quarterof a mileshe 
was quite worn out. It seemed as though 
she would have to pass thenightontheopen 
veldt. Then it occurred to her that if she 
shouted someone might hear and come to 
her rescue. And if by chance she did fall 
into the hands of the enemy they would 
surely treat her kindly. Whatever his 
faults, the Boer was too religious to be 
wholly a scoundrel. Assistance she must 
have, so straightway she hollowed her 
hands and shouted through them. Her 
long, shrill cry pierced the air time after 
time, but there was no response. The echo 
died away and the quiet shut down again, 
and she heard the desert talking to itself 
— the faint murmur of the wind rustling 
over the sand — the gurgle of the river, and 



at times the wail of a solitary bird. Again 
and again she shouted with a courage born of 
despair. All was silent, silent as the grave. 
Then'a sound fell upon her ears. It came 
nearer and nearer until it took shape and 
defined itself as the steady gallop of a 
horse. 

For a moment she was afraid ; but luckily 
she had with her a small but serviceable 
revolver which Harold made her carry. She 
drew it from her belt. She was prepared to 
use it if necessary against an enemy ; even 
against herself. But perhaps it was some 
well-meaning and kindly Boer, or, better 
still, an Englishman. She resolved to risk 
attracting his attention. Anything was 
better than a night alone on that desolate 
waste. Taking her courage in both hands, 
she cried again, and the galloping of the 
horse was now close upon her. Then a 
man's voice shouted. She replied and ran 
forward to meet her preserver, as she prayed 
he might prove to be. Already she thanked 
God for herdeliverance. Shecameupclose 
with him, and peered anxiously through the 
lowering light to take in his features. In- 
stantly she recognised them. Her blood 
seemed to freeze in her veins as she did so. 
Those features she knew only too well ; 
there was no mistaking that stalwart figure. 
That it should be he of all men !— Waldo 
van Zwieten ! 

' What ! Mrs Burton?' he said politely, 
as he swung himself off his big black steed. 
' Well, I am surprised. This is indeed an 
unexpected pleasure.' Brenda shrank back 
and fumbled for her revolver. Brave as she 
was, the man's mocking suavity terrified 
her. She said not a word, but looked at 
him as he stood, strong and tall and master- 
ful, beside his horse, 

'Can you not speak?' he said im- 
patiently. ' How comes it that I find 
you here ? ' 

' My horse ran away with me and threw 
me,' said Brenda, keeping at a safedistanc^ 
from the preserver Fate had so ironically 
sent her. ' Will you please to conduct me 
back to the camp, Mr van Zwieten ? 

' What ! and run the chance of arrest ? 
No, thank you. But there is a Boer farm- 
house a couple of miles away, near the river. 
I can take you there if you like' 

' Can I trust you ? ' asked Brenda, in a 
tremulous voice. 

' You can trust the man who loves you.' 

7 



98 



A Traitor in London 



1 If you talk to me like that I won't go 
with you.' 

'Then I am afraid you will have to 
pass the night on the veldt.' 

' Mr van Zwieten,' she said with dignity, 
' an accident has placed me in your com- 
pany, but not in your power. I have a 
revolver, and if you attempt to insult me 
I shall—' 

' Kill me, I suppose.' 

'No, but I will kill myself!' 

His face twitched. He knew she 
would do what she said, and his love 
for her was so great that he would prevent 
that, even at the cost of his own life. 
'You need have no fear, Mrs Burton,' he 
saiJ in a low tone; 'I will treat you with 
all respect. Get on my horse and we 
will make for the farmhouse I speak of.' 

Unpleasant as it was, there seemed 
nothing for it but to accept his offer. 
The position could not be worse, and it 
might be made better. So far, she 
thuught, she had the upper hand; but 
she was puzzled by his politeness, and 
mistrusted it. However, she had no 
time to analyse her sensations, for the 
darkness was coming on apace, and the 
sooner she reached human habitation 
the better. 

' I will go with you,' she said bravely ; 
' I will accept your offer. I do not think 
you are a good man, and I have used 
hard words to you, I know ; still, I will 
trust you now.' 

Van Zwieten bowed. He said no word, 
but held the stirrup for her to mount. 
With his assistance she swung herself into 
the saddle, and being a good horsewoman, 
she settled herself comfortably on it with- 
out much difficulty. 

In silence he began to lead the horse 
across the veldt. All the while she kept 
a tight grasp on her little revolver and a 
sharp eye on his every action. For some 
time they proceeded thus without a word. 
Then Van Zwieten laughed in a low, 
musical way. ' What a fool I am ! ' he 
said slowly. ' I love you madly ; I have 
you in my power, and yet I do not take 
so much as a kiss ! I am a coward ! ' 

Her face burned in the darkness, but 
she gave no sign of fear. 

' You call yourself a coward,' she said 
calmly. 'I call you a brave man.' 

' Oh, I am a spy ! ' he cried scornfully. 



' You are a spy and, for all I know, a 
murderer ; but you are a brave man, Mr 
van Zwieten, all the same, for you can 
rule yourself. I never thought of you as 
I do at this moment.' 

' You say that because you wish to con- 
ciliate me, ' he retorted angrily, ' not because 
you think so. I am not a good man. I 
know myself to be bad ; but I love you too 
well to harm a hair of your head. All 
the same, I intend to marry you.' 

'That is impossible. I am married 
already, and if Harold were to die — well, 
you know what I said.' 

' That was only supposing I killed him,' 
argued Van Zwieten. ' But suppose he 
were killed fighting, as he may easily be ? ' 

' Then I would remain a widow for the 
rest of my days. I love my husband. I 
should always remain true to his memory. 
You could never be anything to me. Not 
until thi? moment have I ever been able 
to feel the faintest glimmer of respect for 
you.' 

' Even if that is so, I wonder that you 
choose to speak like that to me, situated 
as you are now. It is calculated to scatter 
the good intentions of a better man than I.' 

' I cannot help it. I have told you I 
am not in your power. I am not afraid 
to die. That I prove by not shooting you 
as you stand there. As it is, I keep these 
little bullets for myself.' 

Van Zwieten groaned. ' To think of 
this woman being wasted on a worthless 
fool like Burton ! ' said he. 

' He is not a fool.' 

' You may not think so. You cannot 
expect me to agree. Oh, if you had only 
listened to me, only given me a chance, 
I would have been a better man ! ' 

' I think, you are a better man, or you 
would not have behaved as you a.e doing 
now. You are a strange mixture of good 
and bad.' 

He shrugged his shoulders. ' It often 
happens so,' he said. 'Those who think 
to find a bad man all bad or a good man 
all good are invariably disappointed. I 
have met the best of men, and hated them 
for their meanness, just as I have met the 
worst and loved them for some delightful 
incongruity. We are a piebald lot indeed.' 

Then again for a few moments they 
went on silently. In the distance now 
could be seen a light, and on the wind 



A Dutch Lochinvar 



Q9 



came the barking of dogs. The murmur 
of the river continued all the while like 
the drone of the bagpipes. 

' You see, I have not deceived you," he 
said. 'There is the farm. There are 
women there. The men are out with their 
commandoes — rebels, you call them. I 
■oppose you wonder what I am doing here 
on this side of the Tugela ? ' 

' I do, considering Wilfred Burton is 
in the camp, and it would be very easy 
for him to denounce you. You are not 
the man to run unnecessary risks,as a rule.' 

' The risk I am running is for your sake. 
No, I won't explain myself now. If 
necessary, I must show a clean pair of 
heels. That, fortunately, I am well able 
to do. But here we are at the farm. That 
is Tant' Trana on the doorstep.' 

He lifted her from the horse, and she 
saw the stout woman whom he called Tant' 
Trana waiting on the door to receive them. 
The look she gave Brenda was by no 
means one of kindly welcome. Rather 
was it full of hostility. But she seemed 
to fear Van Zwieten, and she set herself 
to do her best to make the English lady 
comfortable. When he had gone out to 
look after his horse, Tant' Trana set the 
best she had in the way of food before 
Brenda. But the girl was utterly ex- 
hausted, and could not eat. She drank 
a cup of coffee, and the Boer woman 
watched her dourly as she drank it. Then 
it appeared that Tant' Trana spoke 
English. 

' I am no child,' she said. ' No ; I 
have lived long, and the dear Lord has 
watched over me. But never did I expect 
to see an Englishwoman at my table. 
Beloved Lord, Thy wrath is heavy upon 
me!' 

'I am very sorry,' said Brenda, con- 
siderably taken aback by this outburst. 
•I won't trouble you long — only till 
morning. 

But Tant' Trana continued without 
heeding her. She was so fat that it took 
her some time to recover her breath. 
' The dear Lord gave this land to us — to 
the chosen of Israel. And you English 
— you seed of Satan come to take it from 
us ! ' She shook her great fist in Brenda's 
face. ' But never fear, our burghers shall 
drive you into the sea. Oom Paul is our 
Moses. Two sons and a husband have 



I fighting for the land of milk and honey. 
We have two thousand morgen and you 
would take it from us. Beloved Lord, 
let our Moses and his hosts smite the 
ungodly Amalekites ! ' 

How long the old woman went on rav- 
ing thus Brenda did not know. She 
began to feel sleepy : the face of Tant' 
Tr.ma seemed to grow larger and more 
red ; then it receded and her voice 
seemed to grow more faint — to come 
from far away, although the woman was 
talking her loudest. Brenda had just 
grasped the idea that her coffee had been 
drugged, when she lost her senses. With 
one last effort she pulled out her little 
revolver. It dropped from her hand as 
her head fell back. The Boer woman 
picked it up and cursed like Deborah. 
Senseless and white, Brenda lay in the 
big chair, Tant' Trana looking on and 
raving the while. Then Van Zwieten 
entered the room. A smile of satisfac- 
tion flitted across his face. 

How long she remained thus insensible 
Brenda knew not. She came gradually 
to herself. Then she wondered if she 
could be on board ship. There was a 
rocking motion, and she felt as though 
she were imprisoned. Then her senses 
grew more clear, and she awoke to the 
fact that she was on horseback — in the 
arms of Van Zwieten. He held her 
steadily in front of him on the saddle, 
and the horse was trotting steadily over 
the grass, and a thunderous black sky 
was overhead. She uttered a cry, and 
gave herself up for lost. Once again she 
felt for her revolver. Van Zwieten 
guessed what she was after, and laughed 
cruelly. 

'No, it's not there, Mrs Burton,' he 
said. ' I had to arrange that. I'm glad, 
though, you've woke up. I want to have 
a talk with you.' 

' Put me down ! put me down ! ' gasped 
the girl. 

' Put you down ? ' repeated he, clasping 
her the tighter. ' Hardly, after all the 
trouble I have had to get you here. 
That is too much to ask, dear Brenda.' 

' Your promise — you promised to treat 
me well.' 

' And I have done so. As I told you, 
I would not harm a hair of your dear 
head. And I have not done so, and I 



IOO 



A Traitor in London 



will not do so. I had to drug your 
coffee because I knew that by no other 
means should I be able to get you away. 
All's fair in love and war, you know. 
This is both love and war. I told you 
that in Durban ; don't you remember ? ' 

' Where are you taking me ? ' 

' To the Boer lines. We have crossed 
the river ; yes, there is a ford hard by the 
farmhouse. That, of course, was the 
reason I took you there. In another 
hour we shall be safe amongst my own 
people. Thence you will go to Pretoria, 
and then — and then, when the war is all 
over, you will marry me ! ' 

'I will die first,' she screamed, trying 
to struggle. 

' You will not be allowed to die. The 
little revolver looked pretty, ah, so pretty ! 
in your hands, but it was dangerous. I 
love you too well to lose you like that. 
And now that I have you wholly in my 
power, you cannot say that I am behav- 
ing badly.' 

' Oh, put me down, do put me down ! 
Dear Mr van Zwieten, don't spoil your 
good action in saving me on the veldt 
by—' 

' Saving you ! Saving you ! ' exclaimed 
the Dutchman. ' How innocent you are, 
child ! Why, you don't think our meet- 
ing was accidental, do you ? I had you 
brought there. I knew exactly what 
would happen, and my calculations were 
not very far out, were they ? ' 

' You ! — you ! — oh, how can you tell 
me such a thing ? I don't believe it. It 
is a lie.' 

' Gently, please, gently,' said he, re- 
straining her tenderly. She was strug- 
gling to free herself from his grasp, even, 
as she knew, at the risk of life and limb. 
' I can be cruel as well as kind. I tell 
you it was I who brought you on to the 
veldt. The Kaffir boy who attended to 
your horse is my servant. I knew how 
you rode every day, for I followed you 
up from Durban, and have watched you 
constantly. I told the boy to prepare a 
special bit for your horse ; one that would 
burn his mouth after a while. Oh, that 
is an old trick which I learned in your 
virtuous England. When the little beast 
began to feel the burning he naturally 
bolted. What else would you expect him 
to do ? I did not anticipate he would 



throw you, though ; that was not included 
in my plans. The rest you know.' 

Again she tried to struggle free from 
his grasp. 'For God's sake, let me 
down ! ' she cried. She felt she would 
go into hysterics every moment. 

' That is the one thing I will not do. 
I have you at last, and I keep you. You 
are mine now, husband or no husband. 
Not if I can help it shall you ever see 
him again.' 

She strove to pierce the black darkness 
that was all around. She strained and 
strained her eyes, but there was nothing. 
Then she thought she saw a light. But 
she could not be sure. On the vain 
chance that somebody might hear she 
screamed loudly once, and then again and 
again. 

' Be quiet, 1 say,' roared Van Zwieten, 
savagely. ' Understand that I won't lose 
you — that I shoot you first, and myself 
too, for that matter.' 

He spurred his horse ; they were not 
yet beyond the territory under British 
patrol. He seemed to know perfectly 
well where he was making for. She be- 
gan to feel sick and faint with the motion 
and the fierce clutch of the man. The 
horse was galloping hard now with his 
double burden. She felt he could not 
last long at that pace. But Van Zwieten 
had set his teeth hard to it, and urged 
him on and on, speaking not a word. 

' Oh God, save me from this man ! ' 
she cried. 

As though in answer to her prayer 
there was a terrible clap of thunder. A 
flare of lightning Overspread the sky, and 
by its light she could see his face was 
deadly pale, and oh ! so cruel. Before 
he could swear — for his horse shied at 
the crash — before even she could cry out, 
the rain came down with a hiss and a 
swirl, almost a solid mass of water. Once 
again her thoughts went back to that 
night long ago when Malet had been 
murdered. Was she about to meet death 
too? 

Then, with an oath, he drove the spur 
into the animal, and, terrified, it made 
another bound forward. The rain lashed 
their faces ; they were already drenched 
to the skin. Then came another fearful 
thunderclap. She felt as though her head 
must burst. There was a gleam far away 



An unexpected Meeting 



101 



there in the distance — the light from some 
farmhouse, probably. 

* Help, help ! ' she screamed. ' Oh, 
Harold !— Harold ! » 

Van Zwieten swore loudly, but his oaths 
were drowned in the thunder overhead. 
The horse reared, snorting with terror. 
Then she felt the Dutchman's arms lessen 
their grip, and in a paroxysm of fright 
and despair she flung herself to the 
ground. She fell into a kind of morass, 
and she could hear Van Zwieten's cry of 
rage as the animal spraDg forward. The 
next moment, half stunned and dazed as 
she was, she was up and running for dear 
life towards the light, now not far distant. 

In vain did Van Zwieten struggle with 
his terrified horse. The animal plunged 
and reared, and every peal of thunder in- 
creased its state of frenzy. He heard the 
girl shriek, and by a lightning flash he 
saw her tearing across towards the light. 
In the distance a farmhouse showed up 
black in the glare. Then, as once again 
he dug his spurs and turned his horse's 
head, he heard a shot. It was followed 
by another and another, and the next 
flash showed him several figures in front 
of the house. 

Once again Brenda screamed for help. 
A lusty British cheer was her reply. It 
reached the ears of the horseman, and he 
knew well what it meant. He galloped 
off through the roar and conflict of the 
elements like a madman. He had lost 
her! For the second time she had 
escaped him ! 

Her heart bounding, she ran forward 
with redoubled energy, shouting ever her 
husband's name. There was another shot 
and another flash of lightning across the 
sky. It seemed to her that the very 
heavens were open. She threw up her 
arms and fell against the farmhouse fence. 
Then she heard a voice give out some 
order. 

It was her husband's voice ! 



CHAPTER XXIV 

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 

Brenda's reasoning power was not at 
fault in that moment of excitement. 
Harold, with his small patrol party, had 



crossed the river. She, too, was across 
the river — Van Zwieten had told her 
that. It was Harold's voice she had 
heard; she could not be mistaken. It 
was no matter of the wish being father to 
the thought. It was his voice she had 
heard — the voice of her own husband. 
He was there in the farmhouse with his 
party. 

' Thank God ! ' she cried, raising her- 
self with difficulty. 

Where Van Zwieten was she did not 
know. • He could not harm her now ; 
Harold was there to protect her. Cling- 
ing to the stones of the fence in the 
drenching rain, she cried his name aloud 
again. There was silence, then the sound 
of many voices and the tramp of feet. 

' Who goes there ? ' asked a gruff, 
military voice. 

'I — an Englishwoman — Mrs Burton — 
let me in.' 

The gruff voice uttered an exclamation 
of astonishment, and there sounded the 
dull thud of a rifle being grounded. Im- 
mediately afterwards she heard a light 
footstep on the verandah of the house, 
and her husband's voice, surprised and 
incredulous. 

' Brenda ! ' 

• Oh, Harold, Harold, it is I ! Let me 
in — let me in ! ' 

The gate in the wall was pushed open 
and several privates emerged. Someone 
carrying a lantern swung it so that the 
light fell on her pale and haggard face. 
Then, with a low cry of astonishment, 
her husband picked her up in his arms 
and carried her into the house. 

' Good God ! Brenda, what are you 
doing — how did you come here ? ' 

She could not speak — she was sobbing 
on his breast. He placed her gently on 
the hard sofa. Then she found her 
voice. But she could think of nothing 
— say nothing. She could only rejoice in 
having found him. 

' Oh, Harold, Harold 1 Thank God, 
I have been led to you ! ' 

' My poor girl, you are cold and wet and 
exhausted. Here, drink this brandy, and 
I'll get something cooked for you. Don't 
exhaust yourself more by trying to explain. 
That will come after.' 

He had thought of her far away — safe 
and sound in Spearman'scamp. Even now 



102 



A Traitor in London 



he had some faint notion that Van Zwieten 
had something to do with this, though 
how he could have managed it he couldn't 
for the life of him conjecture. 

She smiled lovingly at him, and sub- 
mitted to be wheeled in a chair to the 
fire. Her habit was soaking wet, and 
steaming now in the heat. He knelt be- 
side her and took her hand. 

The room was of no great size It w~s 
furnished quite roughly with a few chairs 
and a sofa, and a table of unpainted deal. 
Pictures from the Illustrated London 
News and the Graphic were on the 
walls ; there was a portrait of President 
Kruger, looking even more grim than 
usual, over the mantelpiece ; from its 
presence she judged that the owners of 
the place were rebels. Outside, the 
rain still came down in torrents, and in 
a room close by she could hear the men 
keeping up their spirits and doing their 
best to make all gay within. Making her 
take off her soaking habit, her husband 
wrapped her in his military cloak. He 
asked no questions, for he saw that she 
was not in a fit state of mind to answer 
them. She began once or twice to try 
and tell him, but he would not listen. 

' When you have something to eat, dear, 
and have got these wet things off, then I 
am ready to listen to all the miracles you 
have to tell me, for I can't conceive how 
you came here in this plight except by a 
miracle.' 

Then a woman — who so far belied the 
traditions of Boer female beauty as to be 
exceeding lean instead of stout — entered 
the room with a tray of smoking dishes. 
She was a kindly creature, and smiled 
pleasantly. She spoke nothing but low 
Dutch, and answered to the name of Tant' 
Wilhelmina. If she were at heart a rebel 
she showed no sign of hostility outwardly. 
She bustled Brenda into another room, 
and there supplied her with garments, dry 
certainly, but of the most wonderful design 
and colour. 

Clothed in these things — which were 
in truth the Boer woman's Sunday finery 
— Brenda came back to the sitting-room. 
Even such garments could not take away 
from her beauty, though they effectually 
concealed every line of her figure. She 
sat down to the table and ate. Harold 
had gone to sec his men. Then she 



sipped a little of the brandy and sat herself 
down by the fire. She felt as though she 
would never be warm. But after all she 
had undergone, this peace and rest was 
heavenly. 

'Wei 1 , dearest.' said her husband, 
entering quickly, ' how do you feel now ? ' 

' Better— much better. Come and sit 
by me, Harold, and I will tell you how I 
come to be here. You are just dying to 
know, and trying not to show it for my 
sake ! ' 

He unbuckled his sword and drew a 
chan beside his wife. ' I am very much 
astonished,' he said, taking her hand in 
his, ' but I have an idea before you say a 
word. Is it V?,n Zwieten ? ' 

' Yes ! I thought you might guess as 
much. I left the camp for a ride, and 
my pony bolted. Mr van Zwieten, it 
appears, through the agency of a Kaffir, 
arranged it all by tampering with the bit. 
I was thrown ; there I lay alone on the 
veldt. Pie came up and carried me off 
on his horse. When the storm burst I 
managed to wrench myself free and ran 
towards the lights in the house. But I 
never, never expected to find you here, 
dearest ! It is God's mercy that has led 
me to you.' 

' I have only been here a few hours,' 
he explained. 'Warren's division had 
started, and we are to remain until it comes 
up. How strange that we should meet 
here. So Van Zwieten is at his tricks 
again ! The brute ! How I wish I could 
get a shot at him. Did he come near the 
house with you ? ' 

' No. When he heard the shots he rode 
away; at least, I think so. But I am 
safe with you, Harold ! ' 

' For the time being, Brenda. But it 
is just as likely as not Van Zwieten, know- 
ing where you are, will return with a Boer 
force and try to take the house. This is 
the enemy's country, and they have not 
yet retired before the advance. I expect 
the division about dawn ; but there will 
be time for Van Zwieten to attack before 
then.' 

' Harold ! promise to shoot me before 
I fall into his hands.' 

The perspiration broke out on the young 
man's forehead. ' If the worst comes, 
Brenda, I will,' he said solemnly, ' but I 
hope to shoot him. Of course, he may 



An unexpected Meeting 



103 



not bring any Boers up after all. They 
must know of Warren's advance, and I 
daresay they'll be afraid to linger outside 
their entrenchments. How did Van 
Zwietcn find you on the veldt ? ' 

' He watched the camp and followed 
me. Oh Harold, the whole thing was a 
scheme of his own to get possession of 
me. Whon I escaped he was taking me 
to the Boer camp; and he intended to 
send me to Pretoria.' 

' To marry you, I suppose, after I was 
shot ! How did he treat you, Brenda ? ' 

Mrs Burton met her husband's gaze 
fearlessly. 'With all courtesy,' she said. 
' If I had been his sister he could not 
have treated me better. And I had my 
revolver, you know, until he took it 
from me.' 

' The scoundrel ! I am glad you were 
well treated. I have to thank him for 
so much consideration. But if he had 
not — ' Harold clenched his fist. 

' I would tnve killed myself ! ' said 
his wife, with equal fierceness. ( You can 
trust me, Harold. You don't suppose 
anything — anything, even torture, could 
change me ? ' 

'No, dear; I know you are the bravest 
little woman in the world. I have the 
utmost faith in you. I should be a cur 
if I had not. Tell me more about this 
brute's plotting.' 

This she did, omitting no detail from 
the time when Van Zwieten had picked 
her up on the veldt to the time of her 
meeting with him, her husband. He 
ground his teeth as he listened ; yet he 
was relieved to find things were no worse. 
In spite of the Dutchman's villainy, he 
was inclined to think better of him than 
he had hitherto done. Dishonourable 
as he was, he had at least treated a 
defenceless woman with respect. At 
the conclusion of the story he kissed her 
again for her bravery. 

' Dearest, you have been splendid ! 
I am a lucky fellow to have so plucky 
a little soul for my wife. Curse the 
man ! I long for the moment when I 
shall be face to face with him. He 
deserves nothing better than a bullet ; 
and he'll get it if I can shoot straight.' 

'No, don't shoot him,' said Brenda; 
'he behaved well to me. He is a spy 
and a scoundrel, but he is not a brute. 



And, Harold, I really believe he loves me 
truly ! ' 

' Who would not love you, my own ? ' 
said her husband, tenderly. 'Yes, I can 
see he loves you. It is the best feeling 
in his blick heart. All the same, I wish 
he would transfer this chivalrous affection 
to some other quarter and leave you alone.' 

' I am afraid he will never leave me 
alone until he dies ! ' 

' Then he must die ! ' cried her hus- 
band, fiercely. ' I shall protect you from 
these insults at any cost. Curse him, I 
wish I had shot him at Chippingholt when 
he accused me of murdering Malet. But 
we will talk of this another time, Brenda. 
You are worn out. Lie down on the sofa, 
dear, and try to sleep. Let me put ray 
cloak over you.' 

' But you, Harold ? ' 

'I must keep my eyes about me. I 
have an idea that Van Zwieten will bring 
his Boers up before dawn.' 

' If you think so, would it. not be better 
to retreat towards the advancing column ?' 

'No. I have my orders to stay here; 
though, of course, no attack was antici- 
pated. Here I'll stay, Brenda, and dc my 
duty. I have a dozen men, and in this 
house I daresay we can hold out until 
our advance guard arrives. I am not 
afraid for myself, but for you.' 

' Dearest, do not be afraid for me. I 
would rather be here than in the camp. 
If we are to die, we die together.' 

' I won't die ; neither shall you. We'll 
baffle Van Zwieten yet ! So far, fortune 
has been on our side. Now go to sleep. 
I must attend to my duty ! ' 

Brenda obeyed. She was worn out 
with emotion and fatigue ; so much so 
that she could not sleep. She lay flat on 
her back on the hard sofa, staring at the 
whitewashed ceiling, on which the flicker 
of the dying lamp made the shadows 
dance. Harold had taken away the lamp 
in case the steady light should attract 
attention from the outside. If Van 
Zwieten was about it was not improbable 
that he would fire where he saw a light. 
Brenda hoped with all her soul thtt he 
would not return. She could not bear 
to think that she had been the means 
! of bringing Harold and his men 
I into peril. But she sadly feared that, 
knowing where she was, the Dutchman 



IC4 



A Traitor in London 



would bring up some of the enemy, who 
were not far away, and would try to 
capture the farmhouse before the advance 
column came up. Full of the thought 
of it, worn out by anxiety and excited 
by the novelty of the situation, she could 
not close her eyes, but tossed and turned 
on her hard couch, longing for the day- 
light. The suspense was almost unbear- 
able. 

The hours passed slowly. Now and 
then Harold would come in to give her a 
word of comfort ; and she always replied 
with a bright smile and a cheerful word. 

The men in the other parts of the 
house relieved each other in watching. 
Captain Burton had honestly told them 
what they might expect. There was noth- 
ing to be gained in minimising matters. 
Each man — there were a dozen of them 
— had his rifle and revolver with a few 
rounds of catridges. It was obvious 
they could not hold the place against 
any prolonged attack on account of their 
shortness of ammunition. But if the 
Boers did not commence operations 
until dawn, as it was improbable they 
would do, they, on the other hand, would 
not have much time. Warren's column 
was on the march, and would be there 
betimes in the morning, and then the 
enemy would be forced to fall back on 
their entrenchments among the mountains 
unless they chose to run the risk of 
capture by the superior force. On the 
whole, Harold felt sanguine that he and 
his men would come out of it all right. 
And there was always the chance that 
Van Zwieten might not bring up his 
force, or that he might make over- 
elaborate preparation, and thus delay 
the attack if he did. At worst, he could 
rely upon the arrival of the column very 
shortly. 

He determined that, when all was safe, 
he would send Brenda back to the camp. 
That done, he could march forward to 
the relief of Ladysmith with a light heart. 
Twice Brenda had escaped this man. 
She should do so a third time. 

Towards dawn the rain ceased and 
the thunderclouds rolled away, leaving 
a clear and starry sky. There was no 
moon, but the surrounding objects were 
faintly outlined in a kind of luminous 
twilight. The animals about the house 



commenced to wake and sniff the morn- 
ing air. Burton went on to the verandah 
and looked out on the wild waste veldt, 
uncanny in the cold light of early dawn. 
He could discern no sign of an approach- 
ing enemy. Nevertheless, he felt any- 
thing but easy in his mind, and de- 
termined on a definite course of action. 
If Van Zwieten did come he would find 
the bird he wanted to capture flown 
beyond his reach. Captain Burton 
returned to the sitting-room and woke 
Brenda from the uneasy slumber into 
which she had fallen. 

' Dearest ! ' he said, sitting down and 
drawing her to him, ' I have a presen- 
timent that Van Zwieten will attack this 
house, and I want to put you beyond 
his reach. I will send you forward with 
one of my men. There is a horse here 
which I can get from the Boer woman. 
He will take you to the advancing column 
and you will be sent back safely to the 
camp.' 

But she flatly refused to do this. ' I 
won't leave you here to be shot. I know 
you can't come yourself, and I won't go 
without you. I suppose we could not all 
leave the place ? ' 

' No. I have my orders to remain here 
until the column comes up. I can't dis- 
obey, Brenda. You must go.' 

' No, no, don't send me away ! I will — ' 

There was a shout outside and Harold 
sprang to his feet. ' I hope to God it is 
not too late ! ' he cried, and hurried out. 

But it was too late. Across the veldt 
a large body of Boers were riding. The 
east was saffron colour, and everything 
for a considerable distance could be seen 
clearly. The sentry who had shouted 
pointed out the advancing column to his 
captain. And Harold went round the 
house and gave orders to bolt and bar all 
the windows. Then he returned to his 
wife and insisted that she should leave 
with one of the men. 

' I must send a messenger back to tell 
them we are being attacked, and hurry 
them up. You must go, Brenda.' 

' No, no ! A thousand times no ! ' 

' God help us then,' he groaned, and 
went off to despatch his messenger. The 
enemy was riding at a canter across the 
grass. He took one of his lancers round 
by the back where the horses were 



An unexpected Meeting 



105 



picketed, and told him to ride with all 
speed to the advancing column, and re- 
port the danger. 

The man took his horse and stole 
quietly away, taking a wide detour to 
avoid the lynx eyes of the Boers. So he 
was away and out of sight before they 
reached the farmhouse by the front. 
Brenda could see them coming, could 
see Van Zwieten leading — she knew him 
by his golden beard. She ran to change 
her things, and by the time the Boers 
had dismounted near the fence running 
round the house, she was back in her 
riding-habit. She got a revolver from 
her husband, and by his orders remained 
in the sitting-room as the safest place. 
Then he kissed her fondly and went out. 
His men, posted at doors and windows, 
were all on the alert — coolly courageous, 
as the British soldier always is in time of 
peril. For the rest they were in God's 
hands. 

The yellow in the east changed to a 
fiery red, and all the earth was bathed in 
roseate hues. From the verandah Cap- 
tain Burton could see the wide veldt 
rolling in grassy waves to the foot of the 
distant mountains, and a gleam of the 
winding river, crimson in the glare. The 
enemy were grouped some distance away 
from the fence, and he went out with 
two men to ask their intentions. Of 
course he knew too well what they were, 
but even in war there is a certain eti- 
quette to be observed. After a while 
Van Zwieten, with a white handkerchief 
at the end of a stick, came forward also 
with two men, and stopped at the fence, 
whence he could talk to the English 
officer. 

' Well, you scoundrel ! ' Captain Burton 
said fiercely, for his soul loathed this 
man who was trying so hard to take his 
wife away from him, 'what do you 
want ? ' 

'I want Mrs Burton, and I want 
you ! ' 

' You shall have neither — or, at best, 
our dead bodies.' 

The other man changed colour. 
' Don't be a fool, Burton,' he said. ' I 
have a number of men here, and you 
must give in. Surrender, and I promise 
you that you shall go free.' 

' And my wife ? ' 



' I can't let her go,' Van Zwieten said 
sullenly. ' I have risked too much for 
her sake to do that. She must come 
with me ! ' 

Captain Burton stepped forward a 
pace, but he still kept on the verandah. 
His orderlies stepped forward, also stolid 
and courageous. 'You villains,' said 
Burton, savagely, ' how dare you make 
such a proposal to me ? If it were not 
for the flag you carry I would shoot you 
where you stand. If I were only one of 
your lot I should do so in spite of it ! I 
hope to God that I shall kill you ! And 
I will some day. You have insulted my 
wife for the last time, you scoundrel ! ' 

' I never insulted Mrs Burton, as she 
will tell you herself,' the Dutchman said 
coolly. 'And she will not be your wife 
long. I shall claim her as mine over 
your corpse.' 

' Do so if you can ! But I want no 
more talk. Retire your men.' 

' Surrender to the President of the 
Transvaal Republic ! ' was the counter 
demand. 

'I hold this house for Her Majesty 
the Queen. I refuse to surrender.' 

'Your blood be on your own head, 
then ! ' Van Zwieten turned as though 
to retire. Suddenly he sprang aside and 
flung up his hand. The Boers with him 
instantly had their rifles to their 
shoulders, and two shots rang out. 
Harold had just time to throw himself 
down, but one of his men was shot. 
The poor fellow flung up his arms with 
a cry. It had not died away before a 
volley came from the British soldiers 
within the farm; but by this time Van 
Zwieten and his companions had de- 
camped and, expecting the return fire, 
had thrown themselves down. The 
larger body of Boers fired ; and under 
cover of this the three scoundrels rolled, 
and afterwards ran into safety. Harold 
sprang back through the door, whither 
the other soldiers had preceded him. 
He picked up the dead man in his arms, 
and, with bullets pattering about him 
like rain, carried the body indoors. 
Then the door was closed and the siege 
began. As the first shots came ping, 
ping against the red stone walls, the sun 
uprose in a blaze of glory, and all the 
veldt was flooded with golden splendour. 



io6 



A Traitor in London 



CHAPTER XXV 



BESIEGED 



The fence round the house was made of 
stone, and the Boers took advantage of 
this as cover, whilst some of them shel- 
tered behind the trunks of the red gums. 
Even then the besieged had the advantage, 
for they were protected by the walls of 
the farmhouse, and could shoot without 
exposing themselves. To Van Zwieten, 
the disappointment of not having suc- 
ceeded in shooting Harold in the first 
dastardly attack was very great. Had 
their leader been killed," he imagined that 
the soldiers would have surrendered, quite 
forgetting that it was not the custom of 
Englishmen to yield to anything but 
death. Now, however, there was nothing 
for it but to take the place before relief 
could arrive. By all his gods he swore 
that Brenda should be his. 

Mrs Burton herself remained in the 
sitting-room, revolver in hand. Far from 
being afraid, the girl, much to her own 
surprise, was filled with the terrible joy 
of battle; indeed, she was in the high- 
est spirits. The Boers fired at the 
windows and wherever they saw a puff 
of smoke. As the bullets sang, and the 
smell of powder became stronger, Brenda 
could hardly contain her excitement. 
The Boer woman was on her knees in 
a back room praying with all her might 
that the accursed rooineks would be taken 
and killed. Her husband and sons were 
with the armies of the Republic, and her 
whole heart was with her countrymen 
outside. How gladly, had she dared, 
would she have opened the door to 
them ! 

Harold ordered his men to reserve 
their fire. His aim was not so much to 
score a victory as to hold the house until 
help arrived. On their side the enemy 
were equally careful, and the fight pro- 
gressed but slowly. There were thirty 
Boers, more or less, and of these three 
were already dead, while two were 
wounded. Of those in the house only 
the man shot under the white flag was 
dead. Van Zwieten, looking anxiously 
over the plain, fearing every moment to 



see some sign of the British advance, 
cursed the slowness of the affair. At 
last he picked some men and sent them 
round to try and get at the horses of the 
besieged ; out Harold had got them 
under shelter in a shed, with five men 
in front to guard them. The Boers 
creeping round the corner were met by 
a volley which killed four and wounded 
two. They fled swearing, and Captain 
Burton rejoiced. 

' Reserve your fire, men ! We shall 
hold out after all ! ' 

'By Heaven we will, sir!' one of the 
men answered. 'We'll fight to the last 
rather than an English lady should fall 
into the hands of these dirty rascals. 
Ho ! Give 'em beans, you beggars ! ' 

And this the beggars in question pro- 
ceeded to do. 

Then Van Zwieten sent forward a 
dozen men on to the verandah with a rush. 
Their advance was covered by a steady 
fire from the rear, though not one of the 
besiegers showed himself. Simultaneously 
another body attacked the back shed 
wherein the horses were housed, and in 
spite of the British fire succeeded in 
effecting their entrance to the vard. 
Then they rushed the shed, which was 
an open one. Two Englishmen fell, 
and there was no one to fill their places, 
for their comradeswerefighting desperately 
on the verandah in front. 

Van Zwieten, seeing his advantage, led 
the remainder of his force to the other 
side of the house, where there was a wide 
window. It opened into the room where 
the Boer woman was kneeling. She flung 
open the shutters. Van Zwieten jumped 
in, followed by half a dozen of his men, 
and the first those within knew of it was 
when they found themselves attacked in 
the rear. They right about faced, put 
their backs to the wall, and fought like 
men. Then, as a reward for her treachery, 
a stray bullet pierced the brain of the 
Boer woman. 

Meanwhile, the men who forced en- 
trance into the yard were steadily gaining 
ground. But hearing the firing within 
the house they turned back by the front 
again, in order to come to the rescue of 
their comrades. The party on the 
verandah broke through the door and 
hurled themselves forward. Boer after 



Besieged 



107 



Boer fell before the Eritish fire, for 
Harold had now concentrated his men — 
what there were left of them. Gradually 
he was driven back to the sitting-room. 
A ''shout of triumph from outside 
announced that those who had remained 
had succeeded in capturing the horses. 

Within, the whole place was dense 
with smoke. Brenda, in obedience to 
h'.T husband's orders, was lying flat on 
the fit or beside the sofa. She gave up 
all for lost, but determined she would 
not be taken alive. She was only wait- 
ing until her husband fell. In the 
midst of it all she could discern Van 
Zwieten. Rifles were useless now. It 
was hand to hand work. The end was 
near. 

There, in the little room, Harold stood 
with three of his men beside him. The 
others were either dead or dying. But 
the Boers had got off by no means 
cheaply. At least twenty of them had 
been done for. The four Englishmen, 
with their backs to the wall, fought on, 
using revolver, muzzle and butt-end, until 
at last their cartridges gave out, and they 
threw down their weapons with a curse 
and surrendered. There was nothing 
for it. Van Zwieten gave vent to a yell 
of triumph. His men threw themselves 
on Burton. But the Englishman was 
too quick for them. He stepped back 
quickly and levelled his revolver. He 
had one chamber loaded. 

' I have just one left,' he said hoarsely; 
' stand up to it, Van Zwieten, for I am 
keeping it for you ! ' 

' Finish him, men ! ' roared the Dutch- 
man. 

'No, no,' cried Brenda, and before a 
man could move she had flung her arms 
around her husband and stood between 
him and them. ' The last shot, dear, is 
for me ! ' she said. 

There was a pause. They held back. 
Harold never flinched. His wife clung 
to him desperately. His face was 
streaming with blood from the graze of a 
bullet. But he was determined to make 
good use of that last shot. 

Beside Van Zwieten stood a huge man 
with a white, flowing beard. At last the 
Dutchman made a dash forward 2nd 
attempted to take Brenda from her 
husbana'i arm. 



' Ycu are mine,' he cried madly, ' mine ! 
You shall not die !' 

' Coward ! ' hissed Burton, ' take your 
lead like the dog you are ! ' He fired. 
But she, struggling to free herself from 
the Dutchman's grasp, fell heavily against 
his right arm and spoilt his aim. The 
bullet whizzed overhead. He threw down 
his weapon and prepared for the worst. 
He put her behind him. Sobbing, she 
fell on her knees and clasped her arms 
around his legs. She felt for her revolver 
that she might be sure of death when he 
died. 

' Fire ! ' rang out from Van Zwieten. 
' Spare the woman, kill the man.' 

Two Boers levelled. But the old man 
with the white beard rushed forward and 
struck them aside. They fell wide. 
' Hold ! ' he cried, ' let no man fire ! ' 

' Damn you, Piet Bok, what do you 
mean ? ' asked Van Zwieten, savagely. 

' Ah ! Piet Bok ! ' cried Harold, seeing 
a chance of life and of saving his wife. ' I 
am your prisoner again. I yield to you.' 

' Fire, men ! ' shouted Van Zwieten. 
' Fire, I tell you ! ' He was seething with 
rage at the fear lest his prey was going to 
escape him. Then turning to the old man 
he said, ' Piet Bok ! this is my business ! ' 

' It is the business of the Republic,' 
retorted Piet, coolly, and at the same 
moment he struck down a Boer who was 
about to fire. 'I'll shoot the first man 
who disobeys my orders,' he said. ' Clear 
the room, I am in command here ! ' 

It was done. Then they set to work 
to drag out the bodies of the dead and 
tend the wounded. 

Soon Harold and his wife, Piet Bok 
and Van Zwieten, were left alone. For 
the third time the Dutchman had been 
baffled. The man whom of all others 
he would have had dead still lived. 

Harold, knowing well that Piet Bok 
would stand his friend, said nothing for 
the moment, but wrapped his arms round 
Brenda and faced the two men. The 
issues of life and death were in their hands. 

' Will you sit down, Englishman ? ' said 
Piet Bok. ' I see you are wounded.' 

' A mere scratch ! ' replied Harold ; 
' but my wife will sit, with your permis- 
sion!' 

' Your wife ! ' echoed the Boer leader, 
who spoke English well enough. ' You 



io8 



A Traitor in London 



never told me she was the rooinek's wife ! ' 
he added, turning to Van Zwieten. 

' I did not think it was necessary,' 
growled the other; 'besides, I thought 
that would have ceased to be by 
now!' 

' Yes, I can well believe that ! ' cried 
Brenda, with sudden energy. ' Mynheer 
Bok, do not believe what this man says. 
He tried to carry me off from my husband 
last night ; and when I escaped to this 
place he brought you and your men up 
with the sole object of having my husband 
shot. He would shoot him now if he 
dared ! ' 

' That he shall not do whilst I am here ! ' 
cried Piet Bok. ' You are both prisoners 
of the Republic, and as such you shall be 
treated.' 

' Nothing of the sort ! ' cried Van 
Zwieten, mad with rage. ' I demand that 
the man be shot and the woman be given 
to me ! ' 

Piet Bok signed to Harold to remain 
silent. ' On what grounds ? ' 

' On the grounds that this woman was 
engaged to marry me with the consent of 
her father, and that this man has married 
her against her father's will.' 

'Is this true?' asked the Boer 
leader. 

' No ! ' cried Brenda, ' it is not true. 
At one time my father, deceived by this 
wicked Van Zwieten, did wish me to 
marry him. But when he found out his 
true character he consented to my marriage 
with Captain Burton. I never was en- 
gaged to him ! I always hated him. 
This is my husband ! ' She laid her hand 
on Harold's shoulder. ' Give me to that 
man and I will kill myself.' 

' She raves ! ' said Van Zwieten. ' He 
has turned her against me.' 

'That is another lie,' said Harold, 
fiercely. 'You don't believe him, Piet 
Bok?' 

' No, I don't believe him,' replied the 
big man, quietly. 'I believe the lady. 
My friend,' he added, turning to Van 
Zwieten, ' can you wish to marry a woman 
who openly declares hatred for you ? 
Besides, she is already the wife of this 
English soldier, and she loves him.' 

The Dutchman winced. 'I demand 
his death ! ' he cried. 

' On what grounds ? ' 



' He is a murderer.' 

' That is untrue,' Brenda said, quietly, 
' and you know it, Mr van Zwieten.' 

' Oh, I wish I could meet you face to 
face and fight it out ! ' Harold said, 
between his teeth. 'Only death will 
stop that cursed tongue of yours.' 

' A murderer ! ' repeated Piet Bok, 
looking at Captain Burton. 'That is 
a serious matter. State your case, Van 
Zwieten.' 

Glibly enough he complied. He re- 
lated the events which had taken place 
at Chippingholt, the death of Mr Malet, 
the finding of the revolver belonging to 
Harold, and ended by stating his con- 
viction that the crime had been commit- 
ted by Captain Burton. ' And he killed 
Malet because he was on our side, 
because he was supplying information 
about the accursed English to me for 
the use of the Republic. He — ' 

' It is wholly untrue, Piet Bok ! ' cried 
Harold, furious at the man's audacious 
mendacity. ' I did not kill Malet ; I did 
not know at that time that he was be- 
traying his own country to Van Zwieten. 
This man's one idea is to get me put out 
of the way that he may marry my wife, 
who hates him ; and he cares not how 
he achieves his desire so long as he does 
achieve it.' 

' I hate him ! — oh, how I hate him ! ' 
cried Brenda. ' I will kill myself rather 
than have anything to do with him. If 
my husband dies I will die too. Oh, 
Mynheer Bok, save me; save my hus- 
band from that man ! ' 

' If you do not shoot the murderer,' 
Van Zwieten said in his turn, 'you are 
no friend to the Republic, Piet Bok ! ' 

The big Boer turned round and cursed 
him for his words. 

' I am a true burgher of the Transvaal, ' 
said Piet Bok, with vehemence, 'and 
you are an outlander ; one of those rats 
who want to creep into our cornrick and 
grow fat. The whole of the war is the 
doing of such as you. What do you 
know about me in connection with my 
own country? Nothing. And what you 
say about these people is untrue. The 
woman hates you. You would kill her 
husband to marry her against her will. 
As to the rooinek, he is not the kind of 
man to murder. With my own eyes I 



Besieged 



109 



saw him spare my boy, Hans. You shall 
harm neither of them.' 

' What will you do, then ? ' shouted 
Van Zwieten, furiously. 

'Send them to Pretoria as prisoners. 
Yes ; but not in your charge, mark you. 
You would kill them on the road. I 
command here, Van Zwieten. Go out, 
mynheer, and get your men together. 
The British are advancing and I have no 
fancy for being trapped. Go ! ' 

' But these two ? ' said the other. 

' I will be responsible for these two,' 
thundered Piet Bok. ' Do you want to 
be shot yourself? That you will be, 
unless you obey instantly.' 

Very unwillingly Van Zwieten turned 
and went, and they heard his voice out- 
side shouting to his men. Brenda sprang 
forward and kissed Bok's hand. ' Thank 
you, mynheer, for your goodness. God 
bless you ! ' 

' Piet Bok, you are a brick ! ' cried 
Harold, enthusiastically; 'and since it 
seems my fate to be a prisoner, I would 
rather be your prisoner than anyone 
else's. 

' You spared my boy's life, man,' was 
the answer, 'and I am not ungrateful. 
I know Van Zwieten is a bad man, but 
he is powerful with our Oom Paul. He 
will make trouble when you are sent to 
Pretoria.' The old man bent forward 
and whispered, 'If I can help you to 
escape I will. Hush ! not a word, my 
children. I hate Van Zwieten. He is 
one of those who have ruined our 
country. Come, now we must go.' 

Considerably cheered by the friendly 
spirit displayed by the old man, Brenda 
and her husband went out on to the 
verandah. Here they found the Boers — 
they had buried their dead and had 
secured the other prisoners — ready to 
start. The English dead were left un- 
buried, much to Harold's wrath, and he 
begged Bok to let him and his surviving 
fellows bury them before leaving. But 
the permission was refused. 

' We must get away ; there is not time. 
Your column will be upon us imme- 
diately, I know. Mount, Englishmen. 
And you, lady — see, we have found a 
saddle for you. Ah ! you cannot say we 
burghers are not civilised. No ! ' 

There was no help for it. Brenda 



mounted, and found the saddle comfort- 
able enough. As it afterwards transpired, 
Van Zwieten had brought it on a spare 
horse, so sure had he been of capturing 
Brenda. How he had managed to pro- 
cure it in the Boer entrenchments it was 
impossible to say, but there it was, 
and Brenda on it now, but not — as the 
Dutchman had no doubt fondly pictured 
to himself — his captive. With an ex- 
pression black as thunder he was riding 
at the head of the troop. Piet Bok re- 
mained in the rear between Brenda and 
her husband. As they left the house, 
Harold looked in vain for any sign of 
General Warren's division. 

Prisoners they were, and prisoners they 
seemed likely to remain, with every 
probability of being sent on to Pretoria, 
where they would be at the mercy of the 
intrigues of Van Zwieten once again. 
But Piet Bok saw the heavy glower of 
the Dutchman, and had his own views 
as to the reason for it. 

'You expected your column to come 
up ? ' he said, in a low tone ; ' so did 
we. Our spies have kept us correctly 
informed. But it seems there is some 
delay in crossing the Tugela.' 
' Are you disputing the passage ? ' 
' No, we are not. We intend to offer 
no resistance to your reaching the 
mountains.' 

'Why? Surely you should dispute 
the river passage.' 

' No ! We are about to — never mind. 
We know what we are doing. Your 
men are very brave — oh, yes ; but your 
generals — ah, well ! the dear Lord has 
shown them what they should do — for 
the benefit of the burghers.' 

Not another word would Piet Bok 
say ; but Captain Burton gathered from 
his looks and speech that the division 
was being led into a trap. The Boers 
were past masters in the art of ensnaring 
their enemies ; and on this occasion they 
were quite capable of entrapping the 
whole of Buller's army amongst the 
mountains. If Harold had only been 
alone he would have made a dash for 
freedom and hastened to warn his com- 
manding officer. But as he was placed 
that was impossible. He could not 
risk his wife's safety even for that of his 
division. He could only comfort him- 



I IO 



A Traitor in London 



self with the thought that the British 
generals had been rendered more wary 
by their late reverses, and trust that they 
would succeed in avoiding this especial 
trap. 

For some hours the little troop trotted 
over the veldt and drew nearer to the 
mountains in which the Boers had their 
entrenchments. Hitherto Van Zwieten 
had kept away from Brenda, but now 
he ranged up beside her while Harold 
was in front with Piet Bok. The man 
looked pale, while his eyes burnt like fire. 
Brenda shuddered as she glanced at him 
and turned her horse away. 

'You are not safe from me yet,' he 
said, noting the action. 'And though 
you shrink from me now, you will come 
to me later. I have finished with kindly 
methods. Now I will be your master. 
Your husband shall die ! yes, in spite of 
that old fool. And when he is dead I will 
marry you. Don't think you have beaten 
me — or ever will ! ' 

' I am not afraid of you, though you 
threaten me ever so often,' she replied 
calmly, 'for I see that God is thwarting 
all your wicked schemes. Twice before I 
escaped you : this is the third time. You 
are strong, Mr van Zwieten, but you are 
not so strong as God ! ' 

' Bah ! Why do you preach to me ? 
I know what I am doing.' 

' You do not,' she said steadily, ' but I 
do. You are marching to your death. 
Yes, it U true. I believe firmly that you 
will die in the midst of your wickedness.' 

' You talk like a child,' said he, uneasily, 
for he was inclined to be superstitious, 
and her solemn tone of conviction made 
him uneasy. 

'You can laugh at me if you please, 
but I am certain that what I say is true. 
You will die — die in — ' 

But before she could finish her dismal 
prophecy Van Zwieten, thoroughly dis- 
mayed by her words, had put spurs to 
his horse and ridden away at full speed. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

IN CAPTIVITY 

After the excitement of that day and 
night came five days of quiet — quiet at 



least for Captain and Mrs Burton, held 
prisoners as they were in a Boer house 
on the slope of a rocky hill sparsely 
covered with grass. It was the home- 
stead of a sheep farm, and the animals 
fed amongst the hills, and, when the 
seasons served, down on the plain. The 
stone house was solidly built ; it was of 
one storey, with a roof of corrugated iron, 
and was comfortable enough after the 
Dutch fashion, so that on the whole 
Brenda and her husband were not un- 
pleasantly situated. Moreover, they 
were allowed to be together — a privilege 
which they valued highly. Indeed, it 
was the sole thing which rendered this 
captivity tolerable. 

As it happened, Piet Bok was unable 
to send them to Pretoria as he had 
wished. The Boers were now engaged 
with Buller's division, and were falling 
back to a hill called Spion Kop, a name 
hardly known at that time, but fated in 
two or three days to be spoken of all 
over the world. Not a burgher could 
be spared to escort them to the capital, 
but strangely enough, a sufficient number 
were told off to guard the farmhouse. 
Harold was somewhat suspicious of this 
arrangement — suspicious that somehow 
Van Zwieten had had to do with it ; but 
he had no means of making certain. The 
Dutchman had never come near them, 
but they feared him all the more now 
that he was out of sight, and fully ex- 
pected some fresh trouble. As he had 
warned Mrs Burton, he had not done 
with them yet. 

Occasionally they were visited by Piet 
Bok, and the old man still seemed as 
kindly disposed as ever, but as yet he 
could do nothing to help them; so for 
five days they had to make the best of 
their irksome captivity. Not even a book 
or a paper could they find. However, 
putting aside the constant dread of Van 
Zwieten, they were not unhappy. The 
house stood so high that there was a 
splendid view of a large plain, and on 
the left a huddle of hills. Beyond these 
the fighting was going on, and the 
prisoners could hear the boom of the" 
cannon and the shriek of shells. At 
times they could see the smoke of the 
battle afar off. Harold hoped that the 
advance of the army would bring them 



In Captivity 



in 



help at last, but the fighting was in a 
more westerly direction, and the hoped- 
for help never came. 

' If we could only escape, Brenda ! ' he 
said for the hundredth time. ' It is mad- 
dening to be shut up here and to listen 
to all that ! We must make one desper- 
ate attempt to get away. You are not 
afraid, I know ? ' 

'lam not afraid,' replied his wife, 
' but we must not be rash. We have no 
weapons, no horses, no food. I don't 
see how we are to manage it.' 

'Nor do I, unless Piet Ikk will help 
us. These men outside would give us no 
quarter if we tried to get away. They 
are just dying to get rid of us.' 

Brenda shuddered. ' Harold, don't ! 
It is terrible to think of. I feel sure all 
will come right in the end.' 

' It won't if Van Zwieten can help it.' 
' He will have enough to do to look 
after himself. Harold, that man will die ! ' 
' How do you know ? Do you mean a 
violent death, and that soon ? ' 

'Yes, that is just what I do mean. 
My mother was a Highland woman, and 
had what they call second-sight. I have 
not got it myself, I suppose, because I 
am not a pure Celt. But I have enough 
of the seer in me to have a presentiment 
about that man ! I feel certain that he 
will die by violence, and that shortly. I 
can't explain myself more clearly.' 

' One never can explain a feeling of 
that sort. You told this to Van Zwieten 
himself? ' 

' Yes, and I frightened him. Perhaps 
that is why he has not been near us.' 

' I should not have thought he was 
superstitious, Brenda; nor you either, 
for that matter.' 

' I am not, as a rule,' was her reply, 
' but I feel that what I say is true. Van 
Zwieten will die ! ' 

Harold, sturdy, stolid Englishman as 
he was, tried to argue her out of this 
idea, but he gave it up as hopeless. She 
had made up her mind that their enemy 
was a dead man, or would be dead within 
a few days. Strange to say, it was on 
that very day that he paid them his first 
visit. lie looked as handsome and as 
burly as ever. Going by appearances, 
he had a good many years of villainy 
before him yet. 



He came up to the verandah and 
saluted Mrs Burton with a low bow, of 
which she took no notice. 

'You are surprised to see me? ' he said, 
with his usual cool insolence. 

' I cannot say that I am surprised at 
anything you do,' was Harold's disdainful 
reply. ' But if you have come to make 
the same proposition you made before, I 
warn you that I shall not listen to it so 
patiently.' 

The Dutchman cast a quick glance at 
the slender figure of the other man. ' I 
am not afraid of you,' he sneered; 'you 
have no weapons — neither sword nor 
revolver.' 

' I can use my fists even on such a big 
bully as you ! ' 

' As you please. But I don't see much 
chance of delivering my message until you 
moderate your tone.' 

' What is your message ? ' asked Brenda, 
speaking for the first time. 

' I come to offer you freedom.' 

' On what conditions ? ' 

' There are none. I love you still. If 
I had my way I would kill your husband 
and marry you. But unfortunately,' said 
Van Zwieten, with a sneer, ' I am amongst 
a very moral people. Piet Bok has told 
the Boer generals about what they are 
pleased to call my wickedness, and I 
have been informed that if I persist in 
my plans I may say good-bye to all ad- 
vancement amongst the godly Boers. 
Now I am a poor man, and cannot afford 
to lose all I have gained. Ambition for 
me must be stronger than love. So, 
Mrs Burton, I give you up ! ' 

' Thank Gcd ! ' cried she, clasping her 
hands ; adding, as an afterthought, ' If I 
could only believe you ! ' 

'Oh, you can believe me,' he said 
gloomily. 'If I were only a rich man — 
rich enough to give up my position here 
— I would never rest until you were mine. 
But the choice lies now between you and 
my position. I choose to lose you. 
From this moment you need have no fear 
of me. You can go with your husband 
where you will. You do not love me — I 
know it now — but him you do love — un- 
worthy though he is — ' 

' That is a lie 1 ' Captain Burton cried, 
starting up. 

' Hush. Harold ! Is it worth while 



1 1. 



A Traitor in London 



arguing about? Let him go on. Wellj 
Mr van Zwieten, you have come to tell us 
this. What else ? ' 

'I have come to offer you my assistance 
to escape.' 

' Oh ! That is what I hardly expected 
to hear you say. And you must pardon 
me if I don't believe you.' 

'As you please,' he said again. 'But 
you can escape to-night if you will. The 
men here now I shall take away with me 
shortly. Two horses will be left behind 
— food is in the house; and here are a 
couple of revolvers — one for you and one 
for Burton.' 

They took the weapons in silence. 
Could this be Van Zwieten ? They did 
not know him in this new role of self- 
abnegation, and the suspicions of both 
husband and wife were thoroughly 
aroused. But the revolvers were good 
ones, and they were loaded. Could it 
be that he spoke truly, and that he was 
anxious now to retrieve his past, to give 
up his plotting and spying, and to live a 
virtuous life amongst the too moral 
Boers, who had indeed, perhaps, forced 
him to do this thing? 

Still Brenda looked doubtfully at him, 
for compulsory righteousness was some- 
what hard to credit. 

' I see you don't believe me,' he said 
after a pause. 'Well, perhaps you are 
right. It is rather late in the day for me 
to turn saint. But you may be sure I 
should not do this unless I had some 
very strong inducement. If you are 
taken to Pretoria you will only remain 
to vex my eyes, and I want to get you 
out of sight. That is my reason for 
giving you your freedom. To-night I 
will send a messenger who will guide you 
to the British outposts. They are not 
so far off as you think. Buller has ad- 
vanced almost to Spion Kop, and he has 
taken several of our positions. If he gets 
Spion Kop — and I understand Warren 
intends to capture it if he can — he will 
have the key to our position and will 
march on to Ladysmith. But' — he 
shrugged his shoulders — 'there is many 
a slip, you know. Well, I will go in 
and get my men. Will you follow my 
messenger ? ' 

' I can't say yet,' Captain Burton 
said bluntly. 'You speak fair enough, 



but this may be a trick for all I 
know.' 

' How should I benefit by a trick ? ' 
Van Zwieten asked. ' If I wanted to 
kill you I could do it now, and no one 
would be the wiser. The Boers here 
would shoot you with pleasure. But if I 
killed you and took Mrs Burton, why, 
then, good-bye to my chance of becom- 
ing President of the Confederate States 
of South Africa. No, I will let you 
go ; it suits me better. Love, as I 
said, must yield to ambition. But if 
you do not believe me, stay here. My 
messenger shall come at eight o'clock to- 
night. Follow him or not as you please. 
Good-bye, Mrs Burton. You little know 
what it is to me to give you up ; but you 
must say I afford you 'every chance of 
being happy with your husband.' 

Brenda looked at him. She began to 
think he was acting in good faith after 
all. 

' I am not ungrateful,' she said gently. 
'We will follow your messenger. Good- 
bye,' and she held out her hand to him. 

Van Zwieten bent over it and kissed 
it. Then he drew himself up, looked at 
Harold steadfastly and turned away in 
silence. 

'Do you believe in him?' asked 
Brenda after a pause. 

'I don't know. Upon my soul, I 
don't know. He is such a scoundrel. 
I wonder you could let him kiss your 
hand, Brenda ! ' 

' Craft must be met by craft,' she 
replied in a whisper. ' You silly boy, 
you don't mean to say you are jealous 
of that ? Can't you see that I wanted to 
disarm his suspicions so that we might 
get away safely ? ' 

' Then you don't believe in him ? ' 

' No ; he has some scheme in his head. 
Hush, it's not safe to talk about it now 
— when he's gone. Meanwhile, let him 
think we accept his offer.' 

It would really seem as though Van 
Zwieten were acting straightforwardly for 
the first time in his life. The Boers who 
had been guarding the place got their 
rifles, saddled the horses, and, headed by 
Van Zwieten, took themselves off down 
the mountain side, and were shortly 
afterwards to be seen riding across the 
veldt in a northerly direction. Captain 



Iii Captivity 



1 1 



Burton, still suspicious, could not believe 
in his good fortune. With Brenda he 
proceeded to explore the house. It was 
empty. They searched the orchard, the 
sheep kraals, the Kaffir huts — in fact the 
whole domain, but they could find no 
trace of a single soul. No weapons 
had been left, but they had the revolvers. 
In the stable were two horses already 
saddled. Harold pointed this out to 
his wife. 

' Ready, you see, for the journey ! ' 
said he. ' Van Zwieten is evidently very 
sure that we shall accept his offer.' 

' Well, we'll not disappoint him so far 
as the horses are concerned,' replied 
Brenda; 'but as to waiting for his 
messenger, I don't think we'll do that.' 

'Why, Brenda, what do you mean? 
We don't know an inch of the country.' 

' Probably this messenger of Van 
Zwieten will know it rather too well for 
our liking. I don't trust the arrangement 
in the least. Believe me, dear, he will 
only lead us into some trap and we shall 
be prisoners again.' 

'I don't see that Van Zwieten need 
have given himself the trouble to do 
that — we were his prisoners already.' 

' I can't see through it at present 
either. But, nevertheless, I'm sure 
there's something at the back of his 
ostensible generosity.' 

Captain Burton was at a loss how to 
interpret it. On the whole, he was 
inclined to trust to his wife's instinct. 
He had no sort of premise on which to 
argue against it. 

So they had something to eat and 
decided to leave at sundown. Beyond 
the hills they knew the British were 
engaging the enemy, so if they made 
due west they had every hope of coming 
up with the outposts of the advancing 
column. There was, of course, always 
the chance that they might not get even 
so far safely, but that they preferred to 
risk rather than trust in Mr van Zwieten. 
Their horses were wiry little animals 
enough, and, if put to it, could show a 
very pretty pace. They fed and watered 
them now preparatory to their start. On 
the whole they were sanguine. 

Then came a surprise. As they were 
making their own meal they heard from 
outside a voice hailing them in English. 



Harold rushed to the door and returned 
shortly with Piet Bok. The old man 
looked anxious, and hurried forward to 
shake Brenda by the hand. 

'Thank the dear Lord you are safe,' 
he said, with emotion. ' I feared it 
might be otherwise — that you had fallen 
into that man's snare.' 

' Then it was a snare ! ' cried Brenda, 
at this confirmation of her own feelings. 
'Tell us, Mynheer Bok, what was his 
plan ? ' 

' Ach ! is it not to tell it you and save 
you from it I am here ? ' He rubbed 
his hands. ' I will show Van Zwieten 
that others can be slim as he. Beloved 
Lord, he is the seed of Satan, that man.' 
'He took away the guards, but he 
has left us the two revolvers and a couple 
of mounts all ready saddled.' 

' Quite so ; and he is to send a 
messenger soon, is he not, to lead you 
to the British camp ? ' 
'Yes, yes.' 

'Believe him not. That messenger 
will not lead you to your camp, but to 
an ambuscade of Boers headed by Van 
Zwieten himself. Then your husband 
here will be shot and you will be carried 
off.' 

' The scoundrel ! The double-dyed 
villain ! But why all this, mynheer ? 
We were in his power already.' 

' No, you were not. You must under- 
stand that 1 have power with the 
burghers; yes, and I told them your 
story, and they were amazed at the 
wickedness of this man, and he was told 
to go out from amongst us lest the dear 
Lord should send evil on the host. 
Then he said he would desist from his 
wicked schemes and send you on to 
Pretoria to be dealt with by the President. 
But I overheard his conversation with 
the messenger whom he intends to send 
to you, and I know his plan. You are 
to be carried off, as I have told you, and 
in durance vile kept until the war is 
over. Your husband will be shot, pro- 
bably by Van Zwieten himself. But of 
all this he will say not a word to the 
burghers, and thus he will maintain his 
place amongst them. You see why he 
does not act openly ? ' " 

'I see,' said Brenda, her colour rising. 
' Now what are we to do ? ' 

8 



H4 



A Traitor in London 



'Come with me at once,' said Piet 
Bok. ' I will lead you by another route 
to your outposts, and so shall we thwart 
this son of the pit. But you must come 
at once, there is not a moment to lose.' 

' But the messenger ? ' 

'Of course we do not wait for him. 
It would mean death to you or to him.' 

' Right you are, then ; let's get off 
straight away. It's getting dark already.' 

' Ach, yes ! that is well. Come along, 
then.' 

Their trust in the old man was implicit' 
He had always proved a friend hitherto. 
The sun was setting in floods of gold 
over the mountain tops as they rode 
down the path which descended to the 
veldt. Heavy rains had rendered the 
ground sodden. Piet Bok headed for a 
point in the hills where he said there 
was a pass other than the one in which 
Van Zwieten was waiting. Unluckily, 
as they started across the veldt, they 
saw a horseman coming towards them at 
full speed. 

' The messenger ! ' cried Brenda. 
' What are we to do now, mynheer ? ' 

The old man unslung his gun. ' Kill 
him,' he said quietly, 'else he will ride 
on and tell Van Zwieten. If he sees me 
with you he will guess the truth. It is 
well known in laager that I am the 
enemy of Van Zwieten.' 

'Must he really be killed?' asked 
Brenda, with a shudder. It was terrible 
to her that this man should be shot in 
cold blood. 

' It is his life or mine, dear,' said her 
husband, pulling out his revolver to be 
ready if Piet Bok should fail. 

But the approaching Boer was not 
going to trust himself at close quarters. 
He circled round them and held out 
a white flag in token of friendship. 
Harold laughed grimly as he recognised 
the old trick. Piet Bok sighted, and 
fired. But the fellow flung himself flat 
down on his horse's neck and the shot 
missed him. 

He rode off with a defiant whoop. A 
big Dutch oath escaped from the lips of 
Piet Bok, and he caught Brenda's horse 
by the bridle. 

' We must ride for it,' he said. ' The 
man recognised me and you too. He 
will hasten back to Van Zwieten, and 



they will be after us in no time. We 
must make for the hills.' 

' How can I thank you, Bok ? ' said 
Harold, gratefully. 

'Almighty, that is right! you spared 
my boy Hans.' 

By this time the messenger was a mere 
speck on the horizon. He was riding 
like the wind to take this news to his 
chief. 

The three fugitives made a straight 
line for the pass, urging their horses to 
their best. The sun had dropped behind 
the mountains and the shadows were 
gathering fast on the veldt. For several 
hours they tore on until they reached the 
mouth of the pass. There they pulled 
up to give themselves and their animals 
breath. 

' I think we can count ourselves safe 
now,' said Piet Bok, wiping his brow. 
' But we must push on through the pass. 
At the other side let us hope we shall 
come up with your men.' 

The track was narrow and winding and 
full of mud, which fouled the horses and 
made the climbing doubly hard. It was 
quite dark there, but Piet knew every 
inch of the path, and rode on ahead 
fearless and confident. In about an 
hour they emerged. There were the 
lights of the British camp twinkling a 
mile and a half away. 

As they commeuced the descent they 
heard a shot ring out, and Brenda gave 
a cry of dismay. Piet Bok had fallen 
from his saddle. 

' Ride, ride for your lives ! ' cried the 
old man. ' He has come round by the 
other pass.' 

And so it was. Van Zwieten, instead 
of following at their rear, had pushed 
through the other pass and had cut them 
off. But he had made one mistake. He 
had allowed them to get out of the pass 
on to the higher ground instead of cutting 
them off from the camp. As shot 
followed shot, Harold caught Brenda's 
horse by the bridle. Headlong they 
tore down towards the plain. 

The light, or rather the dark, was all 
against the pursuers. They gave up 
firing and made to overtake them. But 
the sound of the muskets had already 
been heard in the camp, and they could 
hear the bugles ringing out. Whether 



Nemesis 



'5 



the brave old Boer who had saved them 
was dead or not they did not know. It 
was beyond their power to aid him. 
They urged their horses on and on, for 
in their speed lay the only hope of 
escape. 

' Courage, Brenda ! ' cried Harold. 
'Stick to it; they've heard the firing 
in camp.' 

' I will, dear— I will.' 

Then her husband looked round, and 
axi exclamation of mingled relief and 
triumph came from him. They had 
given up the chase. 

'They've had enough of it, hurrah!' 
he cried. 

They were now within a short distance 
of the camp, and could hear the com- 
mands being given consequent on what 
evidently had been taken for the com- 
mencement of a surprise on the part of 
the Boers. Those behind them had 
turned and fled now in the opposite 
direction — all of them save Van Zwieten. 

He stood up and fired twice. But his 
shot fell wide. Then Harold turned and 
tried what his revolver would do at that 
range. Van Zwieten's arm fell useless. 
Then he galloped off, none too soon, for 
a squadron of mounted infantry came on 
the scene just at the moment. 

' What's all this ? ' shouted the captain 
in command. 

' We have escaped ! ' shouted Harold 
— ' Burton and Mrs Burton.' 

'What, is it you, old man?' cried a 
friendly voice — a voice they knew well. 

For the fourth time Brenda had escaped 
her enemy. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

NEMESIS 

Having no ambition towards enacting 
the rdle of heroine of an Adelphi melo- 
drama, Brenda was beginning to weary 
of this game of hide-and-seek. However, 
she was safe for the time being, as even 
tke redoubtable Van Zwieten could hardly 
be expected to take her from the midst 
of the British army. Harold reported 
the mishap which had led to the loss of 
his men, and afterwards rejoined his 



company. He wished his wife to go back 
to Spearman's camp; but she begged so 
hard to remain that at last he consented. 
Permission was obtained from the 
authorities, and Brenda betook herself to 
her old task of nursing the wounded. She 
related to her fritnd the doctor as much 
of her adventures as she could without 
trenching too closely on her private affairs; 
and great surprise was expressed at her 
perils and her luckyescape. Butto Wilfred, 
who came to see her and his brother as 
soon as he heard of their rescue, she 
related everything in detail. 

' By Jove ! what a scoundrel that 
fellow is ! ' said that young man. ' I 
wonder when he intends to leave you 
alone.' 

'Never, I fear,' replied Brenda. 'Un- 
less he is killed I shall never be safe 
from him.' 

' I'll shoot him myself if I get a chance 
He is a danger to society — it must be 
someone's business to put him out of the 
way. You have had a bad time, Brenda ; 
but I don't think you need fear the mar. 
any more.' 

' What makes you say that ? ' 

' I have an idea that he has come to 
the end of his tether.' 

'So have I,' she said. 'And I told 
him so. But, Wilfred, tell me about my 
father ? ' 

' He has gone back to Durban, as you 
know, to see the authorities about your 
disappearance. He thinks you have been 
taken prisoner by the Boers, and that 
you are at Pretoria by now. He is going 
to try and get you exchanged.' 

' There is no need for that, thank God ! ' 
said Brenda, cheerfully. ' I must let him 
know at once.' 

' That will be difficult unless you send 
a message from Ladysmith.' 

' When do you think we shall be there ? ' 

' If the luck holds good, in a couple of 
days. We have taken most of the Boer 
positions ; now Warren intends to try for 
Spion Kop to-night. If he captures it, 
we shall hold the key to the Boer position.' 

' Ah, you see, Wilfred, your forebodings 
are all wrong.' 

' We are yet in the wood, not out of it,' 
replied he, significantly. ' However, I 
will give Bulkr and Warren al' praise. 
They have done well. All the same, 1 



n6 



A Traitor in London 



still condemn this plan of campaign. 
Only a miracle can render it successful.' 

' Well* we shall see what happens when 
Spion Kop is taken. Do try and look 
on the bright side of things, Wilfred.' 

But the young man departed, still 
shaking his head. There was no doubt 
that he was very depressing company. 
His face wore a look of settled gloom 
most painful to behold; and he was 
always prognosticating calamity in the 
face of the most promising operations. 
At the same time he invariably refrained 
from pessimism in his letters to his news- 
paper, which were usually cheerful and full 
of devoted praise of the behaviour of both 
troops and officers. 

It was anxious work waiting in the 
hospital while Harold was in the field. 
But Brenda had not much time for 
thought. She was nursing the wounded 
with all her heart and soul, and was an 
angel of light amongst the weary, wounded 
soldiers. The doctor called her his right 
hand, as well he might. She deprived 
herself of rest and food to be by her 
patients. Only when compelled to, did 
she lie down ; and then it was in her 
clothes, ready to be up and doing at the 
call of duty. Her best qualities came out 
in this most arduous work. 

The grand attack on Spion Kop was 
to be made at night, in order to effect 
a surprise. All day long the operations 
went on in the field. Towards sunset 
Harold's company had to dislodge a 
number of Boers who had entrenched 
themselves on the slope of the mountain. 
The position was taken and the enemy 
fell back; but not without considerable 
loss of life on both sides. Amongst the 
wounded was Harold, who was shot 
through the lung. It was dark when the 
news was brought into the camp, and 
the ambulance bearers started under a 
rising moon for this miniature battlefield. 

Quite unaware of her husband's mis- 
hap, Brenda was busy attending a dying 
man. But he was beyond her aid, and 
died within a very short time of his 
being brought in. She was closing his 
eyes with a sigh at the horrors of war 
when one of the doctors told her that 
she was wanted. With a presentiment of 
bad news she went out and found Wilfred 
waiting to speak to her. He was greatly 



agitated and took her hand as if to give 
her courage. 

' Brenda, I have bad news for you ! ' 

' It is Harold ! ' she cried, pale to the 
lips. 

' Yes, it is Harold. I have only just 
heard.' 

' He is dead ? ' 

' No. I hope not — I don't know ; but 

he fell while leading the attack on one of 

the small kopjes. They are just going 

out to bring in the wounded. I thought 
» 

'Yes, I'll come,' said Brenda, antici- 
pating his speech. 'Is it far?' 

'No, not very. Make haste. God 
grant we may find him alive ! ' 

She needed no second bidding, but 
hastily gathered together some medical 
comforts, wrapped herself in a cloak and 
came out. In silence they walked to- 
ward the fatal spot which had been 
pointed out to Wilfred by a private who 
had seen Harold fall. She did not weep. 
Her emotion was too deep for tears. The 
moment which she had been dreading 
all these months had arrived — unex- 
pectedly, as all such moments do. Now 
she felt that the actual event was not so 
terrible as the expectation had been. 
There was a chance that he might be 
alive. He was wiry, healthy, clean- 
blooded and clean living, and the Mauser 
bullets, as Brenda had seen, inflicted a 
clean wound. Full of silent prayer she 
walked on. Had she heard of this in 
England she would have been distracted ; 
but somehow, since she was on the spot 
and would soon be with him, it did not 
seem quite so terrible. At all events he 
had fallen in the forefront of battle, doing 
his work, and not by the treachery of 
Van Zwieten. If he died he could not 
die more gloriously. There was comfort 
in that thought. 

'I saw Van Zwieten to-day,' said Wil- 
fred, suddenly. 

'You did? Where? When?' asked 
Brenda, wondering if after all the 
scoundrel could have had anything to 
do with this mishap to her husband. 

' On the lower slopes. I was looking 
through my field-glass and saw him quite 
plainly riding about on a big black horse. 
I recognised him by his long golden 
beard, I am certain it was he; that 



Nemesis 



117 



was why I wanted you to come with me 
to see after Harold.' 

' 1 don't understand — ' 

• Because as Van Zwieten is about the 
place he is bound to hear that Harold 
has been shot. He has spies every- 
where ; and from one of our prisoners I 
heard that he had described Harold's 
appearance to several Boer sharpshooters, 
that the poor chap might be picked 
off.' 

' Do you know the prisoner's name ? ' 

' Yes ; and he's a fine old fellow who 
did good service to you — Piet Bok ! ' 

'Then he was not killed at the time 
we escaped?' 

'No, only touched on the right arm. 
He was taken prisoner this morning. I 
would have come and told you, but I 
couldn't get away. I saw him by chance, 
and he recognised me from my resem- 
blance to Harold. I told him he was 
wrong, and then he informed me of Van 
Zwieten's new villainy. By this time the 
man who picked off Harold has, no 
doubt, told Van Zwieten, and has re- 
ceived his reward. And that scoundrel 
will probably come down to see if the 
news is true.' 

'What?' shrieked Brenda. 'Oh, 
don't, Wilfred ! If he finds Harold still 
alive he will kill him.' 

'That's what I thought; and that's 
why I got you to come with me. I feel 
certain that the brute will be there.' 

She uttered a cry of mingled terror and 
pain. 'Oh, Wilfred, do not let us lose 
a moment. Harold, my darling ! ' She 
began to run. 

' Come, Brenda, keep as quiet as you 
can. You'll need all your strength ! ' 

A glorious moon filled the world with 
its pale radiance. The shadows of the 
mountains and kopjes were black as 
Indian ink in the white light. Here and 
there were points of fire, and in the dis- 
tance a glimpse of the white tents of the 
camp. To the right rose the great mass 
of Spion Kop, with its flat table top dark 
and menacing. But a few hours and 
there would be a deadly struggle on that 
pinnacle. Already the generals were 
maturing their plans for the assault. 
Occasionally the boom of a gun could 
be heard, for the Boers had not yet de- 
sisted from firing, in spite of the lateness 



of the hour. Brenda paid no heed to 
all this. She strained her eyes towards 
the rising ground they were approaching. 
Was he dead or alive ? All her life was 
bound up in the answer to that question. 

The Indian bearers swung along at a 
slow trot, and she followed closely on 
Wilfred's arm. He felt her shiver 
although the night was warm, and did 
his best to console her. And she never 
forgot his brotherly kindness at that 
terrible hour. 

They climbed up the slope which 
earlier in the day had been swept by 
rifle fire. Now the Boers had retreated 
to another point of vantage, and the 
position was held by a small force of our 
men. As the ambulance party ap- 
proached it was challenged and the word 
was given. In a few minutes the bearers 
were within the entrenchments. 

'Glad you've come,' said the officer 
in charge ; ' there are many poor fellows 
here who require your attention. The 
enemy are removing their dead now.' 

He addressed these remarks to the 
doctor, but he saluted when he saw 
Brenda, whom he knew. 'I expected 
you, Mrs Burton. Your husband is over 
yonder. We have made him as comfort- 
able as possible.' 

' Then he is not dead ? ' gasped Brenda, 
turning faint. 

' Oh, no,' he said cheerily, ' he is worth 
a dozen dead men. You'll soon pull him 
round. Over there.' 

He pointed to the left and she hurried 
away. Wilfred lingered behind to speak 
to the officer. 'Have you noticed a 
particularly tall man with the Boers?' 
he asked, ' a man with a golden beard ? ' 

'Yes. He asked after Burton. It 
seems he was a friend of his before the 
war.' 

'Has he seen him?' asked Wilfred, 
turning pale, for well he knew the reason 
of Van Zwieten's inquiries. 

' No, I think not. But he intends to 
look him up shortly. I think your 
brother will pull through, Burton,' and 
he hurried away to attend to his duties. 
Wilfrid stood still and meditated. He 
grasped his revolver. 'The man has 
lived too long,' he murmured ; ' I must 
doit!' 

Then he moved towards the group 



n8 



A Traitor in London 



round his brother. Brenda was support- 
ing his head, and a doctor was examining 
the wound in the poor fellow's chest. 
' We must wait till we get him to the 
hospital,' he said. 'Have him put into 
the ambulance, Mrs Burton.' 

( Has he a chance, doctor ? ' she asked, 
with quivering lips. 

' I can't say yet. The bullet has 
pierced the lung. Hope for the best.' 

Then he hurried away with his attend- 
ants, and Brenda was left alone with her 
husband and Wilfred. Harold was quite 
unconscious, but breathing faintly, and 
as she bent over him, with an agonised 
face, she prayed that God would spare 
his life. Wilfred stood beside her and 
looked down silently on that countenance 
waxen in the light of the lantern. As 
he stood there, as Brenda placed Har- 
old's head on her knees, both heard a 
mocking voice beside them. 

'Well, Mrs Burton, you are a widow 
at last ! ' 

She gave a cry of horror at the ill- 
omened words, and Wilfred turned with 
a bound to clutch Van Zwieten by the 
throat. 

' You hound ! ' he cried. ' You miser- 
able dog ! ' and he hurled the big man to 
the ground. 

Taken by surprise, the Dutchman had 
fallen; but he rose to his feet with an 
ugly scowl, cursing bitterly. 'I'll pay 
you out for this ! ' he said, menacingly. 
'At present my business is with Mrs 
Burton.' 

4 1 refuse to speak to you,' cried she. 
'You are a wicked man, and God will 
punish you.' 

' I rather think that it is you who have 
been punished,' he sneered. 'Your 
husband is dead, or pretty near it. Now 
it is my turn.' 

' He is not dead. He will live when 
you are lying in your grave. Leave me ; 
you have dene harm enough ! ' 

' But he has not paid for it ! ' cried 
Wilfred, savagely. 

' No, nor will he pay ! ' cried Van 
Zwieten, defiantly. 

Wilfred pulled out his revolver. 'I 
will make you pay ! ' he said. ' You 
shall fight me ! ' 

The Dutchman was no coward, but he 
drew back from the • terrible expression 



on the young man's face, accentuated 
as it was in the strong moonlight. 

' I refuse to fight with you,' he said, 
sullenly. 'This matter has nothing to 
do with you. If I choose to marry your 
brother's widow, that is my business. 
Mind your own ! ' 

' You shall marry no one,' said Wil- 
fred, harshly, ' for I intend to kill you.' 

Brenda did not speak. She listened 
absently while the two men wrangled. 
Van Zwieten looked at her for a moment, 
then he turned his back on Wilfred. 

'I will not fight you,' he repeated. 

The other man sprang forward and 
struck him on the cheek with his fist. 
' Will that make you fight ? ' 

With a roar of rage Van Zwieten 
turned and flung himself forward. He 
caught the younger man in his arms like 
a child and threw him on the grass. 
Then he drew out his revolver and fired 
at the prostrate man. But Brenda had 
looked up, and seeing his intention had 
sprung to her feet and grasped his arm. 
The shot went wide, and in his rage Van 
Zwieten struck her — the woman he loved 
— struck her to the ground. And before 
he could recover himself sufficiently to 
fire a second time, he fell with a hoarse 
cry, shot twice through the breast by 
Wilfred Burton. 

'Nemesis has come up with you at 
last,' said the young man, picking up 
Brenda in his arms. 

The sound of the shots had attracted 
the attention of the men near at hand. 
'Good God, Burton, what have you 
done ? ' cried an officer. 

'Killed some vermin,' was the reply. 
'Here, bring the ambulance along and 
put Burton into it.' 

' Wilfred ! ' shrieked Brenda, who had 
recovered her breath, ' is he dead ? ' 

'No,' said Van Zwieten, faintly, 'not 
dead — but dying — I have lost ! ' 

No one attempted to molest Wilfred. 
' 1 can explain myself to the commanding 
officer,' he said. 'He will approve of 
what I have done.' 

By this time the other Boers had taken 
their departure, or there might have been 
trouble at this violation of the armistice. 
Brenda aided the men to place Harold 
in the ambulance, and when she had 
made him comfortable, returned to the 



Calm after Storm 



119 



side of Wilfred, who was explaining his 
conduct to the officer in command. 
Van Zwieten heard her footstep — or he 
must have felt her presence near him. 
He opened his eyes. 'I am done for,' 
he said. ' I suppose it is just, but 1 
loved you, Brenda ! ' 

Much as she hated him, she could not 
see him die there without making an 
effort to save him. She tried to staunch 
the wound, but it was impossible. The 
doctor had long since taken his depart- 
ure. Seeing that all human aid was 
useless, she moistened the man's lips 
with brandy. 

'Thank you,' he said, faintly. 'Will 
you forgive me ? ' 

'Yes, I forgive you,' she whispered, 
' but you must ask forgiveness of God.' 

Van Zwieten shook his head feebly. 
' It is too late for that. Ask Burton to 
forgive me. He has punished me. He 
can afford to be generous.' 

Wilfred overheard the words. 'I 
forgive you the ill you have done my 
family, but I do not forgive you for 
seeking the hospitality of my country and 
betraying it. Come, Brenda ! ' 

' I can tell you something about that,' 
said Van Zwieten, in a weak voice. 
'Come near.' 

Quite unsuspicious, Wilfred knelt down 
beside him. In an instant Van Zwieten 
raised his revolver and shot him through 
the throat. He fell back with the blood 
pouring from his mouth. 

Van Zwieten laughed. ' Quits ! ' he 
said. Then he fell back dead. 

All was confusion. Brenda knelt 
beside her brother-in-law, and took his 
head in her lap, while the others crowded 
round Van Zwieten's dead body. Wil- 
fred opened his eyes, saw Brenda's eyes 
bending over him, and whispered, ' Bend 
down, quick ! ' 

She put her ear to his mouth, and 
heard him whisper in broken words, ' In 
my breast-pocket — look yourself — packet 
— confession. I shot Malet.' 

' You— oh ! ' gasped Brenda. ' Why ? ' 

Wilfred Burton raised himself up with 
one last expiring effort. ' For England ! ' 
he cried. 'For England — God bless 
Eng — ' Then he too fell back a corpse. 
Brenda fainted. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

CALM AFTER STORM 

Two weeks later Mrs Burton was in 
Maritzburg, by the sick-bed of her hus- 
band. As prophesied by Wilfred, the 
attempt to relieve Ladysmith by storm- 
ing the impregnable positions of the 
enemy had failed. Certainly Warren 
had been so successful as to have seized 
Spion Kop, but only to abandon it on 
finding the position untenable. Then 
Buller very wisely had fallen back on 
his original line of defence across the 
Tugela ; and the retreat had been con- 
ducted in a masterly fashion, without 
the loss of a man or a gun. Brenda and 
her wounded husband had gone back 
also to Spearman's Camp, and later on 
had gone on to Maritzburg. Wilfred 
was left in his lonely grave under the 
shadow of Spion Kop, where also lay 
the body of Van Zwieten. 

Harold's wound was dangerous, but 
had not proved fatal. He had been 
invalided home by the doctors ; and so 
soon as he might be able to travel he was 
to sail for England. But when that 
would be it was difficult to say. For 
some days he had hovered between life 
and death ; but now he had turned the 
comer and was gradually winning his way 
back to life under the loving and skilful 
care of his wife. He was out of danger 
and on a fair way to recovery, but it would 
be many a long day before he would be 
able to fight again. 

In the meantime, Mr Scarse, hearing 
that his daughter was safe and sound, had 
now returned from Durban, and was stay- 
ing at the same hotel. He was thankful 
to know that at last she* was to be spare 5 
the persecutions of Van Zwieten, whose 
death he openly rejoiced in. He was 
greatly astonished at the news that 
Wilfred had killed Malet, but he hardly 
censured him so severely as a Little Eng- 
lander might have been expected to do in 
the circumstances. But, indeed, Mr Scarce 
was by no means so virulent against his 
country now as he had been in the past. 
His visit to South Africa had opened his 
eyes to the other side of the question, 



I2Q 



A Traitor in London 



particularly to the many failings of the 
Boers. He had learned from experience 
that England was not invariably wrong ; 
that however she might blunder, she had 
usually right on her side. In fact, both 
as a father and a politician, Mr Scarse 
was a reformed character. 

Harold was terribly distressed to hear 
of the death of his brother. For a long 
time Brenda kept the news from him, 
fearing its effects in his weak state. But 
the day came when it could no longer 
be withheld, and she was obliged to tell 
him the truth. 

It was a glorious tropical morning. 
Her father had gone out, and she was 
seated by her husband's bed, holding his 
hand in her own. His beard had grown, 
he was thin and haggard, but his eyes 
were bright and full of intelligence. He 
was anxious, and able now to hear all 
that had to be told. And she told him 
everything. He was amazed. 

' Wilfred killed Malet ! ' he said, hardly 
believing his ears. ' But he had a 
sprained ankle on that night. It is 
impossible ! ' 

' His sprain was feigned to protect 
himself,' replied Brenda, sadly; 'it is all 
in his confession.' 

' He left a written confession ? ' 

'Yes, he wrote everything as it hap- 
pened on that night, and carried the 
statement about with him, to be placed 
in the hands of you or myself when he 
died. Hush, Harold, dear, you must 
not speak. Here is my father.' 

Mr Scarse entered on tip- toe to inquire 
how the invalid was getting on. He 
brought in some fruit — always a welcome 
gift to the convalescent. He had heard 
enough to acquaint him with the subject 
under discussion. So busy had Brenda 
been in nursing her husband that she 
had not found time to tell the whole 
story to her father, Now he asked her 
for details, and she went over them again 
for his benefit. 

' But why did Wilfred kill the man ? ' 
he asked. 

' From sheer patriotic feeling,' answered 
his daughter. ' He found out that Mr 
Malet was supplying information about 
our defences to Van Zwieten, and he 
remonstrated with him. Malet laughed 
at his scruples and denied his complicity. 



Then Wilfred searched Mr Malet's desk 
and found papers which proved con- 
clusively his treachery. Then it was he 
decided to kill him to save the honour 
of the family.' 

'Well,' said Scarse, reflectively, 'murder 
is a terrible crime] but if ever it is 
excusable, surely it is in such circum- 
stances as these.' 

'So I think,' chimed in Harold. 'A 
man who betrays his country should not 
be allowed to live. In his place I would 
have acted just as Wilfred did. It was 
not a murder ; it was well-deserved exter- 
mination.' 

' It is terrible, nevertheless. Read the 
confession, Brenda,' said Mr Scarse. 

' No. I can tell you the story better. 
Harold must not be wearied, and the 
confession is long. Wilfred has stated 
at great length the reasons which led him 
to this act, and sets out a strong defence 
of it. He never regretted it at all 
events.' 

' Go on, Brenda, dear child. I am 
anxious to hear how he did it.' 

She glanced at Harold to see if he 
was listening, and began : ' I need not 
weary you with his own defence,' she 
said. ' As I have told you, from papers 
in Mr Malet's desk he found out that he 
was a traitor, and was supplying Van 
Zwieten with information concerning the 
plans of the Government, the number of 
men and guns which we could place in 
the field, and many other things which 
the Transvaal authorities wished to know. 
Had Kruger and his gang not known 
that we were wholly unprepared, they 
would not have dared to defy Great 
Britain and risk this war. Mr Malet, it 
appears, is responsible for a great deal — 
indeed, for the whole war ! ' 

' The scoundrel ! ' Harold said weakly. 
' I am glad, indeed, that Wilfred shot him. 
I would have done so myself.' 

'To ward off suspicions from his doings, 
Malet posed as an Imperialist. He saw 
Van Zwieten only at intervals. It was 
to obtain possession of some papers from 
Malet that Van Zwieten came down to 
Chippingholt, and for that reason he 
extorted an invitation from you, father.' 

' I thought he was anxious to come,' 
Mr Scarse said. 'Now I can see it 
all.' 



Calm after Storm 



121 



She continued : ' Wilfred heard that 
Van Zwieten was at the cottage, and kept 
a sharp eye on Malet. He found out 
that he was to meet Van Zwieten on that 
night and give him some documents. 
He then made up his mind to kill him, 
to save — as I have said — the honour of 
the family, as well as to punish him for 
his wickedness in betraying his own 
country. 

' Shortly before nine o'clock, Van 
Zwieten came to the Manor and entered 
the library by one of the French windows. 
It was his voice that Lady Jenny heard 
when she went to see if her husband was 
back from his walk. Indeed, it was Malet 
who brought Van Zwieten to the library 
to give him the papers. When Lady 
Jenny was on her way to the Rectory to 
see you, Harold, Wilfred escorted her. She 
mentioned that she had heard voices in 
the library, and wondered with whom her 
husband had been speaking. Wilfred 
guessed at once that the man was at his 
scoundrelly work, and was more than ever 
determined to put a stop to it. To get 
away from Lady Jenny without exciting 
her suspicion, and also to prove an alibi 
in case he shot the man, he pretended to 
sprain his ankle. Lady Jenny was quite 
unsuspicious, and went on to the Rectory 
alone. As you know, she never reached 
it, having been stopped by the storm. 
As soon as she was out of sight, Wilfred 
hastened back to the house with the 
intention of confronting both men, and 
killing Malet if he did not take the papers 
back from Van Zwieten. He also entered 
the library by the French window, so the 
servants never saw him come in. He 
found the room empty, as Van Zwieten 
had gone away, and Malet with him — I 
suppose it was to receive further in- 
structions. Wilfred saw the revolvers 
belonging to Harold on a side-table, for 
Mr Malet had been using them that 
afternoon. He took one, found that it 
was loaded, and hastened after the pair. 
Knowing that Van Zwieten was at our 
.cottage, he went first in that direction; 
but for a long time he could see neither 
of them. At last he caught sight of 
Malet in the orchards, just before the 
storm. He was talking with a man whom 
Wilfred took to be you, father.' 
' My brother, I suppose ? ' 



' Yes,' replied Brenda. ' It was Uncle 
Robert. He heard high words between 
the two and saw the struggle.' 

'That was when the crape scarf was 
torn ? ' 

'Undoubtedly. Malet must have torn 
it and held it in his hand without thinking. 
Well, Wilfred saw Malet throw the other 
man to the ground just when the storm 
broke, and hurry away to get back to 
shelter in the Manor ; but the storm was 
so violent that he took shelter instead 
under a tree. Wilfred crept up to him 
and waited, but it was so dark that he 
could not see him plainly enough to 
shoot straight, and he was, of course, 
unwilling to risk failure. Then a flash of 
lightning revealed Mr Malet. Wilfred 
sprang forward and grasped him by the 
shoulder. He cried out. I heard him 
myself. I was only a short distance 
away. When the darkness closed down 
again, Wilfred put the muzzle of the 
revolver close to his head and blew his 
brains out. Then he ran away, and in 
the darkness tripped over a stump. The 
revolver flew out of his hand, and he lost 
it.' 

' Van Zwieten found it ? ' 

' Yes. Wilfred was a good deal troubled 
about it, for he knew that Harold's name 
was on it, and he feared lest he should 
on that account be accused of the murder.' 

' As I was, indeed,' said Harold. 

' Yes, dear, I know ; but not officially. 
If, for instance, you had been arrested on 
the charge, then Wilfred would have come 
forward and have told the whole story. 
As it was, he kept silence.' 

'And what did he do after he had 
killed Malet ? ' asked Mr Scarse. 

' He went back to the place where 
Lady Jenny had left him, and waited for 
some time in case she should return. 
You see, to exonerate himself he thought 
it well to keep up the fiction of the 
sprained ankle. Then, as Lady Jenny 
did not return, he went home, and gave 
out that his ankle was sprained.' 

' But didn't the doctors find out the 
truth ? ' 

' No ; he took good care not to show 
his foot to anyone. He wrapped it up in 
wet cloths and made a great fuss about 
it, but, in the excitement over the inquest, 
the doctor took no notice of it.' 



122 



A Traitor in London 



' I wonder Lady Jenny didn't find out 
the fraud,' said Harold. 

1 In that case, Wilfred would have owned 
up to it and confessed the whole thing. 
And I don't believe she would have 
minded much, if she had known what a 
traitor her husband was.' 

'No; I daresay she would have 
applauded Wilfred. She is a true patriot 
is Lady Jenny,' said Harold, with a 
feeble laugh. 'Besides, on account of 
Robert's wife, she and her husband 
had become estranged for many a long 
day. But did Van Zwieten never 
guess ? ' 

'No,' said Brenda, reflectively, 'I 
don't think he did. He believed Lady 
Jenny herself had done it out of revenge ; 
but he could not prove that, and, under 
the circumstances, lest his own affairs 
should come out, he thought it wiser to 
hold his tongue. Well, that is the story, 
and a very painful one it is. I am sure 
that Wilfred acted for- the best, and did 
what he conceived to be his duty both to 
his country and his family ; but it is dread- 
ful to think he should have stained his 
hands with blood.' 

' I don't altogether agree with you, 
my dear,' said Mr Scarse, energetically. 
'If Malet had been detected in his 
treasonable dealings, under martial law 
he would have been shot openly. As 
it was, Wilfred executed the sentence 
privately. I am not one to defend 
murder, you know, but I cannot bring 
myself to look upon this as murder.' 

'Wilfred was insane on the subject of 
patriotism,' said Harold. ' He was 
hardly responsible for his actions when 
he shot Malet. I don't blame him. 
The reptile deserved his punishment; 
and Van Zwieten deserved his fate. 
Wilfred did no more than was right, 
and he rid the world of two scoundrels.' 

' You forget, Van Zwieten fired first,' 
put in Brenda-. ' Wilfred only defended 
himself. I can't pretend I am sorry that 
Van Zwieten is dead, because so long as 
he lived he would never have ceased to 
persecute me. But let his evil die with 
him, Harold.' 

'So far as that goes I never want to 
hear his name ! ' 

' Now you are over-taxing your strength 
talking, dear,' said Brenda, arranging the 



bed-clothes. 'You must be quiet and 
try and rest.' 

'Yes, do,' said Mr Scarse. 'I want 
to have a few words with Brenda.' 

So Harold lay back, and, after a time, 
fell into a sleep. His wife told off one 
of the nurses to stay beside him, and 
herself went out with her father. When 
they had gone a short distance he ex- 
plained why he wished to speak privately 
with her. 

'Brenda,' he said, 'a will was found on 
Van Zwieten. It seems that there is a 
sum of some five thousand pounds stand- 
ing to his credit at one of the London 
banks.' 

'Really, father; I never thought he 
was so well off. Evidently spying paid. 
To whom has he left it ? ' 

' To you, my dear ! ' 

'To me?' She could hardly believe 
her ears. ' I would not take it if I were 
starving. I hated the man. How could 
I touch his money ? ' 

' But Brenda, think for a moment ; is 
it not foolish to throw it away ? Five 
thousand pounds is a large sum.' 

' No, no, no ! ' repeated the girl, 
vehemently. 'I will not touch it, I tell 
you. That money was made out of 
spying and working evil against England. 
I am sure Harold would think as I do 
about it.' 

And so Harold did think. Later on, 
when she returned, she found him just 
awakened out of a refreshing sleep, and 
she told him of Van Zwieten's strange 
bequest. He refused at once to accept 
it, and commended her for having fore- 
stalled him in the decision. 

' We can live on our own mea 3, small 
as they nre, dear; and when the war is 
over, I will beat my sword into a plough- 
share and come out here and turn 
farmer.' 

' That is if we are successful,' said his 
wife, smiling. 

' Oh, I have no fear as to that. In a 
month or two there will be equal rights 
for white man and black from the. 
Zambesi to the Cape. But, in any case, 
there'll be no more fighting for me, 
Brenda. I shall never be the same man 
again.' 

' Who says so ? ' she asked quickly. 

'The doctor. He says this wound 



Calm after Storm 



123 



will always trouble me, and that I shall 
never be able to stand the English 
winters. Here the air is balmy and the 
climate nild.' 

' In that case we'll do just as you 
suggest, dearest. There is nothing to 
keep us in England. My father is 
wrapped up in his politics, and my aunt 
and uncle care only for themselves. Yes, 
you are right, as you always are, Harold. 
When the war is over we will settle here.' 

'We shall never think less of dear 
old England because we are exiles, eh, 
Brenda?' 

' Exiles ! We shall not be exiles here. 
This is part of the British Empire. 
Wherever the map is coloured red there 
is England. Harold, dear, do you know, 
I cannot get poor Wilfred out of my 
thoughts. In his own way he was a true 
hero. He gave his life for his country.' 

'Yes, Brenda, I agree, just as much 



as many another man is doing here at 
this moment. I cannot help feeling 
relieved that the mystery of Malefs 
death is cleared up, and I am not 
ashamed now that I know it was my 
brother who fired the shot. May such 
justice ever be done to traitors ! ' 

She knelt beside the bed and took 
his hand soothingly in her own. ' Don't 
talk any more about these things, dearest. 
They excite you. I shouldn't have 
mentioned it. Let the past lie buried. 
All I know, and all I care for, is that 
you are alive, and that I have you wholly 
to myself. We will never be parted, 
Harold. We may be poor in the 
world's goods, but we are rich indeed 
in love.' 

'And that is the best of all riches, 
dearest.' 

'Amen,' she said, and kissed her 
husband tenderly. 



THE END. 



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certain expectations which are always fulfilled. Such a writer is Jlrs Lovett 
Cameron." 

ACADEMY. — " JVIrs Lovett Cameron exhibits power, writes with vivacity, and 
elaborates her plots skilfully." 

BOOKfflAfl.— " jvifs Love&Cameron has gained for herself a circle of admirers, 
who take up any new book of hers with a certain eagerness and confidence." 

VAfllTY fRlR. — " flflrs Lovett Cameron needs no introduction to the novel 
reader, and, indeed, has ber public ready to her hand as soon as her books 
come out." 

London: JOHN LONG, 13 and 14 Norris Street, Haymarket 

And at all the Libraries and Booksellers 
# SIXPENNY EDITIONS ARE NOW READY 



THE BOOK FOR EVERY HOUSEHOLD. 

180 pp. Grown 8uo. Cloth. Price Is., by post 1s. 3d. 



APPEARANCES : 

HQW TO KEEP THEM UP 

ON A LIMITED INCOME 

BY 

Mrs ALFRED PRAGA, 

Author of "Dinners of the Day," "Starting Housekeeping," etc. 



Queen. — "Her teaching possesses a distinct value; her counsels are distinctly 
counsels of perfection. ' Appearances ' is both suggestive and valuable ; one welcomes 
the book as an attempt to prove that a limited income does not necessarily entail slipshod 
housekeeping or coarse cookery. " 

Hearth and Home. — " Mrs Alfred Praga, who is so able a writer on domestic 
subjects, has just published ' Appearances : and how to Keep Them up on a Limited 
Income ' ; and Mrs Praga, who is practical (indeed, she writes this book as her own 
experience), goes into every detail, from drain flushing to quinquennial assessments, and 
from the training of servants to the annual holiday. The book costs but half-a-crown, 
and is admirable in value, as it is written without ' nonsensical ideas.'" 

Madame. — "The book is very clearly and definitely expressed. It is full of inter- 
esting and intelligible hints to housekeepers of all incomes." 

Lady's Pictorial. — ''Mrs Praga's book is practical and sensible; moreover, it is 
brightly written, and is full of useful hints." 

Daily Telegraph. — "Seeing what a very large proportion of the population spends 
its time in keeping up appearances or a limited income, Mrs Alfred Praga's little volume 
devoted to showing how it may be done should commend itself to a wide circle of readers. 
The book is severely practical, and deals with every point in connection with the art and 
science of showing a presentable aspect to the world on exiguous means." 

Morning Post. — " A book in which many useful hints and economical recipes are 
offered to those about to set up housekeeping. The author points out ' that with care 
and determination to succeed it is comparatively easy, no^Ponly to live, but to live well 
— a very different matter — and to keep up appearances upon ,£300 a year.' The book 
is brightly written." 

Referee. — "All young housekeepers will find it to their advantage to carefully 
study her book, which is well worth reading." 



London: JOHN LONG, 13 and 14 Norris Street, Haymarket 

And at all Booksellers and Newsagents 




A Great Explorer's Noble Achievement. 



Famous in his day was John McDouall Stuart. 
But it is over forty years since his great achieve- 
ment made his name rin? throughout the world — 
and men's memories are short. The old story 
of pluck and endurance is recalled by a letter 
recently written bv Mr. ]. W. Billialt, Ho.i. 
Member of ttie Royal Geographical Society, 
J. M. Stuart was born at Dysai t, Fifeshire. in 
the year of Waterloo, but at the age of twenty- 
three he emigrated to South Australia. After 
some years in various occupations the fascina- 
tion of exploration seized hold of him. He 
made no fewer than three attempts to cross 
Australia and finally succeeded. The first time 
the British flag was carried across the Australian 
continent was with Stuart's party in the expedi- 
tion of 1861-62. The expedition lasted fourteen 
months and six days, and the distress owing to 
lack of water was intense. 

From start to finish there were troubles, 
difficulties and hardships. Several horses died 
from the great heat, and the natives showed 
lively hostility. Still the party pressed on, and 
in July, 1S62, they came out at Van Dieman's 
Gulf. The return journey was even more dis- 
tressing, and nearly proved fatal to the leader. 
Pluck and determination, however, prevailed in 
the end, and on January 21st, 1863, the party 
arrived safe back at Adelaide. Mr. Stuart 
received fiom the Government a grant of £2,000, 



and also a gold medal and a watch from the 
Royal Geographical Society. 

Mr. Stuart had nine companions, of whom 
there are now fix survivors. He himself has 
been lying in Kensal Green cemetery these 
seven and thirty ye*rs, for he did not long 
survive his great triumph, but came home to 
England to die. 

The expedition was fitted out under the 
auspices of the South Australian Government, 
but Messrs. James and John Chambers with 
Mr. Finke were its principal organisers and 
supporters. Thus it was that the exploring 
party were able to take with them all such 
arfcles as Mr. Stuart deemed desirable. These 
included a good supply of Holloway's Pills and 
Ointment. It is interesting to note that these 
now famous remedies were even in those days — 
full forty years ago— considered indispensable 
by the shiewd, hard-headed, experienced 
pioneer. 

Moreover, the remedies proved invaluable to 
the intrepid explorers, and Mr. Billiatt, one of 
the six members ot the expedition still living, 
tells how festering sores caused by scurvy and 
thorns were cured by the ointment. 

It will thus be seen that these remedies 
were carried by Stuart's party over land never 
before trodden by white men. That was forty 
years ago. 



A SPLENDID RECORD. 

In the annals of Medical Science no record is more noteworthy than that of Holloway's famous 
remedies, which, year by year, for nearly Seventy Years, have achieved a continuously prowing 
succjsi. Tiny are prescribed, recommended and used throughout the entire civilised world, 
because in themselves alone they are positively a complete dispensary, alwa>s reliable and always 
h«ndy, for almost every ailment common to men, women and children. 

HOLLOWAY'S PILLS & OINTMENT. 



HOLLOWAY'S PILLS 

act gently but thoroughly upon the 
Sluggish Liver, Bowels and Kidneys, 
cleansing and correcting the organs 
without any distressing disturbance. 
They free the system of all impurities, 
and tone up and strengthen [he digestive 
organs, promptly cunns Biliousness and 
Indigestion and dt«peiiins the most 
severe headaches. Females of all ages 
find in Holloway's Pills a priceless 
remedy and aid. 



HOLLOWAY'S OINTMENT 

is the greatest known remedy for 
Bad Legs, Old Stpk and Suppurating 
and other Skin Diseases. It soothes, 
cleanses and hea s as noihii-g else will 
do. The Pills should also he usf-d to 
purify the blood. Holloway's Ointmrm is 
equally effective for Rheumatism, Lum- 
bago, and Pain and Stiffness in the 
Joints ; while for Soreness of the Chest 
and Throat the welcome relief it at once 
affords is speedily followed by cure. 



HOLLOWAY'S REMEDIES ARE THE STANDARD OF PURITY AND EXCELLENCE 




A Fragrant Toilet Luxury, Unequalled for Purity and Excellence. Made entirely 
of Sweet Vegetable Oils and Guaranteed free from Animal Fats. 

PLANTOL SOAP. 

Perfumed with the Choicest Floral Extracts. Soothing to Skin and Complexion. 
Perfumed, 6d. ; Natural, 4d. per Tablet. 

LEVER BROS., Ltd., PORT SUNLIGHT, ENGLAND. 

The name LEVER on Soap is a guarantee of Purity and Excellence. 

Printed by Gilbert & Fiviwgto*, Limited, s?»: uGLB'u UoUiv, Clijiiiivvp"